Fisheries Research and Development Corporation

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The Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) is a co-funded partnership between its two stakeholders, the Australian Government and the fishing industry. It was formed as a statutory corporation on 2 July 1991, under the provisions of the Primary Industries and Energy Research and Development Act 1989 (the PIERD Act 1989) and is responsible to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (Australia).


The FRDC’s role is to plan and invest in fisheries research, development and extension (RD&E) activities in Australia. This includes providing leadership and coordination of the monitoring, evaluating and reporting on RD&E activities, facilitating dissemination, extension and commercialization. The FRDC achieves this through coordinating government and industry investment, including stakeholders to establish and address RD&E priorities. In addition the FRDC monitors and evaluates the adoption of RD&E to inform future decisions.

Revenue sources[edit]

The primary revenue for the FRDC comes from the Australian Government and the fishing and aquaculture industry; in addition it manages significant contributions by stakeholders in FRDC-funded projects. The FRDC’s primary revenue source is based on:

  • the Australian Government providing unmatched funds equivalent to 0.5 per cent of the average gross value of Australian fisheries production (AGVP);
  • fishers and aquaculturists providing contributions of at least 0.25 per cent of AGVP; and
  • the Australian Government matching contributions by fishers and aquaculturists up to a maximum of 0.25 per cent of AGVP.

The FRDC’s strategic investments in RD&E activities benefit the three sectors of the fishing industry: commercial (wild catch and aquaculture), recreational and indigenous. The FRDC has a significant responsibility in ensuring, on behalf of the Australian Government, that research is undertaken to assist in the management of the fisheries and aquaculture resource for ongoing sustainability. This means that a significant proportion of funding is directed at research that has a public good benefit.


A Chair and a board of directors govern the FRDC, while an Executive Director (ED) leads the corporation’s business activities on a day to day basis. The board oversees corporate governance, sets strategic direction and monitors the ongoing performance of the FRDC and the ED. The FRDC board and the ED are responsible for managing and evaluating the organization and its investments, and for reporting to Government and the fishing industry. During 2012-13 the focus for the FRDC Board will be on:

  • implementing the National Framework for Primary Industries Research, Development and Extension
  • developing strategic investment options to ensure delivery of outcomes against the FRDC RD&E Plan
  • responding to findings of the Productivity Commission inquiry into the RDCs and the Rural Research and Development Council’s National Strategic Investment Plan.
  • developing a plan to improve the perception of the fishing industry through making research results more publicly available and addressing factually incorrect media (and similar) reports.

Fisheries Research Advisory Bodies (FRABs)[edit]

The FRDC supports a network of FRABs covering Commonwealth fisheries and the fisheries and aquaculture of each state and the Northern Territory. The FRABs have an extremely important role in optimizing the efficiency of the FRDC’s planning and investment processes. The FRDC works to ensure a majority of open call and Tactical Research Fund applications are submitted through, or reviewed by, the FRABs. The FRABs represent sectors of the fishing industry, fisheries managers and researchers; and most also have environmental and other community interest representation.

Investment strategy[edit]

The FRDC invests in RD&E across the whole value-chain of the commercial fishing and aquaculture industry, and for the benefit of both indigenous and recreational fishers. The FRDC seeks to achieve maximum leverage from its investment by providing research administration and services using a value adding model. Where research projects are tailored to deliver a specific outcome, and are actively managed and monitored. The value proposition to running the value adding model, compared to a simple ‘granting’ model for research and development funding which can be carried out at minimal cost, is that the returns are significantly better. This is because more time is spent ensuring the design and implementation of each project is correct and aligns with desired outcomes of the stakeholders. The FRDC manages the implementation through its ongoing investment in systems that deliver best practice in project development and assessment (see page ## on Fisheries Research Advisory Bodies), integrated project, financial and human resource management. The FRDC commissions RD&E through a variety of flexible investment approaches. These include: an open-call for project applications; formal partnership agreements with industry sectors; subprograms and coordination programs that are tailored to a specific industry sectors or activity; short-term tactical research investment; and specifically targeted commissioned RD&E; especially where there is market failure by private investment. The focus for FRDC investment aligns with the 14 themes (below) outlined in its 2010-2015 Strategic RD&E Plan. In any given year the investment balance between themes may vary depending on strategic needs – see page overleaf for current percentages.

Programs Themes

1. Biosecurity and aquatic animal health
2. Habitate and ecosystem protection
3. Climate change
4. Ecologically Sustainable development


5. Governance and regulatory systems
6. Resource access and allocation
7. Production, growth and profitability
8. Consumers, products and markets
9. Value from aquatic resources


10. Resilient and supportive communities

People Development

11. Leadership development
12. Workforce development
13. Innovation skills

Extension and adoption

14. Extension and adoption

Relationships with stakeholders[edit]

In developing the projects that address the five programs, directions are established in association with the FRDC’s partners — government, industry stakeholders and research organisations. The FRDC works with its partners to not only undertake program management in an effective manner, but also to disseminate the results and assist with their adoption and, when appropriate, commercialisation. Over the course of the year, the FRDC will continue to collaborate and work with its stakeholders.

Stakeholder research priorities[edit]

One of the primary challenges for the FRDC is to gain a solid understanding of the needs and priorities of its stakeholders – many of whom come from a diverse range of sectors and operations. FRDC in developing the National RD&E Strategy and its RD&E Plan has consulted widely with a majority of these groups. In addition the FRDC has undertaken industry research to build on this knowledge. While there are common, national issues, each sector faces unique challenges and has specific research, development and extension needs, and these vary around Australia. To ensure a balanced portfolio, and to align with industry research priorities, the large majority of project applications are reviewed by the FRABs, and where possible industry and management is directly engaged and integrated into the project delivery.

The Australian Government[edit]

The Minister for Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry and the Parliamentary Secretary are integral to the running of the FRDC. The Minister, the Parliamentary Secretary and their Department help set out priorities that need to be addressed. National Priorities Forum The FRDC has worked closely with key stakholders to develop, and now implement, the National Fishing and Aquaculture RD&E Strategy. A key component is the National Priorities Forum. Over the coming year the National Priorities Forum will meet and focus on developing the Major-Support-Link Framework and governance arrangements for delivering on the each role.

Australian Fisheries Management Forum (AFMF)[edit]

AFMF comprises the heads/CEOs of the Australian and state and territory government agencies responsible for the management of fisheries. The AFMF discusses issues relating to fisheries and aquaculture management.

The FRDC will continue to work with AFMF, sitting as an invited representative to their meetings, providing advice and ensuring their priorities are incorporated into RD&E planning prcesses.

Consultation with representative organisations[edit]

The FRDC has four representative organisations with which it will consult over the course of 2012-13.
➢ Australian Recreational and Sport Fishing Industry Confederation Inc (trading as Recfish Australia)
➢ National Aquaculture Council Inc (NAC).
➢ Commonwealth Fisheries Association Inc (CFA).
➢ National Seafood Industry Alliance (NSIA).
Under section 15(2) of the PIERD Act 1989 and the Guidelines on Funding of Consultation Costs by Primary Industries and Energy Portfolio Statutory Authorities, the FRDC may meet travel and other expenses incurred in connection with consultation between the FRDC and each of its representative organisations. The FRDC has budgeted $30,000 on such consultation in 2012-13.

Consultation with levy organisations – Australian Prawn Farmers Association[edit]

The FRDC administers a research and development levy on behalf of the Australian Prawn Farmers’ Association (APFA). The FRDC’s investments in prawn farming research and development is driven by the APFA’s RD&E Plan. FRDC and the APFA enjoy a very close working relationship. The APFA has nominated that the majority of its investment is to be through co-investment with the Seafood CRC. The APFA has a lead role with FRDC in ensuring its priorities are met.

Sector industry bodies[edit]

The FRDC has continued its close relationship with the National Seafood Industry Alliance (NSIA). The NSIA represents the commercial fishing, pearling and aquaculture industries through state industry councils and peak sector associations. It will build upon the partnerships established with individual industry sectors.

The FRDC also invests in, and partners, entities such as Southern Rocklobster Ltd, Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association, Tasmanian Salmonid Growers’ Association, Australian Pearl Producers and both the Prawn and Barramundi Farmers’ Associations.

Rural research and development corporations[edit]

The FRDC will continue to partner with other RDCs on a range of activities to enhance joint strategic outcomes. Most significant of these include climate change, evaluation of RD&E, and the “Appetite for Excellence” primary producer’s tour – a chef, waiter and restaurateur competition. Not only will the FRDC partner other RDCs at the project level, but it will also work more broadly to collaborate in functional areas. The FRDC will continue to attend meetings of the Council of Rural Research and Development Corporations (CRRDC), as well as meetings of Executive Directors, Business Managers and Communications Managers. In conjunction with other RDCs, the FRDC will assist in coordinating sponsorship and participate in events such as the Outlook and producer conferences. Additionally, the FRDC will continue to provide advice and services in relation to project management and the FRDC project management software – OmniFish.

Seafood Services Australia[edit]

The FRDC continues to work with, and invest in, Seafood Services Australia (SSA). A key focus of this partnership is to develop industry’s ability to engage on a number of standard related issues. It will also facilitate responses to key trade and market access issues.

Seafood Cooperative Research Centre[edit]

The FRDC is a core participant of the Seafood CRC whose research program aims to increase the profitability and value of the Australian seafood industry, increase access to premium markets and increase demand for Australian seafood. These priorities are aligned with the FRDC’s RD&E programs, in particular Program 2: Industry. This partnership provides a mechanism for the FRDC to extend RD&E along the value chain and enhance the focus on development activities.

Research Partners[edit]

Investment in research is the FRDC’s core business. As a result, it is vital to the FRDC’s success that good relationships are built and maintained with its research partners. In any given year FRDC will have under management around 300 active projects. The key research partners are:
• Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF)
• Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA)
• state fisheries research centres
• Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
• universities
• Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs)
• Seafood Services Australia (SSA)
• other Rural RDCs and companies
• industry groups
• co-investors from the private sector.

The Australian Fishing Industry[edit]

The fishing and aquaculture industry is one of the most complex of Australia’s primary industries in terms of both its structure and the natural resources on which it depends. Most of the industry’s business environments are made more complex by their dependence on access to natural resources that are publicly managed in the interests of present and future generations. The Australian fishing industry comprises three main sectors:

  • commercial sector; consisting of wild catch fishing, aquaculture and through-chain activities undertaken by seafood importers, processors, manufacturers, handlers and retailers
  • recreational fishing, which includes the tackle, tour guides and charter sectors
  • Indigenous fishers.

The "fishing industry" is further defined in the FRDC Regulations 1991 under the PIERD Act 1989 such that it includes any industry or activity carried on in or from Australia concerned with: taking. culturing, processing, preserving, storing, transporting, marketing, or selling of fish or fish products.

The commercial sector comprises approximately 120 wild-catch fisheries and 70 aquaculture species. Commercial seafood and marine products (e.g., pearls) were valued at $2.2 billion in 2008–09. The recreational sector has 3.4 million participants, who were estimated in a 2001 survey to expend $1.9 billion on their fishing. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people participate in commercial and recreational fishing, as well practice customary fishing. The legal rights around indigenous fishing are being refined over time and some aspects are now part of existing legislation and courts decisions.
In 2009–10, 11 431 people were employed in the commercial fishing, hunting and trapping industry, with 7646 employed in the fishing, hunting and trapping sector, and 3785 in aquaculture enterprises. Compared with 2008–09, total employment in the commercial fishing, hunting and trapping industry increased by 24 per cent (2208 people) following a 30 per cent (1931 people) increase in full-time employment and a 10 per cent (277 people) increase in people engaged in part-time employment in 2009–10.
Demand for seafood is rising in Australia because of increasing affluence and increasing awareness of seafood’s prominent role in a healthy diet. In Asian markets consumption is also increasing with the growth of the middle class, especially in China and India. This will place demands on the supply of a limited resource, leading to increases in price.
Currently Australia’s commercial seafood production only provides around 28 per cent of domestic demand. Combined with the strength of the Australian dollar the commercial sector is now looking to re-orient its market portfolio towards better serving the Australian market. Increasingly, value chains will encompass both domestic and imported product. Other factors, such as further improvements in fisheries management and better utilisation of catch, will also be important in meeting domestic demand. But it is not only seafood for consumption that Australia produces. Pearls are a high value consumer item that is produced at the highest level of quality through leading edge technology and environmental credentials, making it one of Australia’s most valuable and sustainable fishering industries.
The FRDC has a significant responsibility in ensuring, on behalf of the Australian Government, that research is undertaken to assist in the management of the fisheries resource for ongoing sustainability. This means that a significant proportion of funding is directed at research that has a public good benefit.


Australian Fisheries Statics 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 change
The wild catch sector $1.5 b for 188,488 t $1.38 b for 181,601 t $1.4 b for 173,142 t $1.3 b for 171,512 t $: -1.0)
t: -0.9%
The aquaculture sector $806 m for 60,142 t $869 m for 64,032 t $867 m for 70,092 t $870 m for 73,542 t $: +0.3%
t: +4.9%
Overall production was $2.21 b for 248,481 t $2.21 b for 240,479 t $2.21 b for 237,508 $2.18 b for 241,123t $: -1.3%
t: +1.5%

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