Fisheries Research and Development Corporation

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Fisheries Research and Development Corporation
Device from Fisheries Research and Development Corporation logotype.jpg
Agency overview
Formed 1991
Jurisdiction Australia Commonwealth of Australia
Headquarters Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Coordinates: 35°19′00″S 149°05′48″E / 35.3168°S 149.0966°E / -35.3168; 149.0966
Employees 12
Minister responsible
Agency executive
  • Dr Patrick W. Hone, Executive Director

The Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) is a statutory authority that manages investment by the Australian Government and the Australian fishing and aquaculture industry.[1]

Business model[edit]

The FRDC is one of fifteen Australian rural research and development corporations managing investment by the Australian Government and primary industries that during the past 25 years has been crucial to the doubling of the productivity of the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors.[2][3]

At its inception in 1992, the Corporation's major focus was on research concerning the management of commercial wild-catch fisheries and, to a lesser extent, aquaculture. Since then, the scope has widened greatly to encompass economic, environmental and social aspects of the entire fishing and aquaculture industry – that is, the recreational and indigenous customary sectors in addition to the commercial wild-catch and aquaculture sectors.[4] The Corporation’s strategic investments in research, development and extension activities benefit all its stakeholders (listed below).[5] However, the FRDC is unique among the corporations in balancing its investment between natural resource management and industry productivity and development. Therefore, a significant proportion of funding is directed at research that has a public good benefit.[6]

In fulfilling its role of planning, investing in and managing fisheries research, development and extension (RD&E) activities in Australia, the FRDC provides leadership and coordination of the monitoring, evaluating and reporting on RD&E activities and facilitates the dissemination, extension and commercialisation of research results to end-users. The FRDC achieves this through coordinating investment by government and industry, and involving stakeholders to set and address RD&E priorities. The FRDC also monitors and evaluates the adoption of RD&E outputs to inform future decisions.[7]


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), the FRDC is responsible to the Minister for Agriculture (Australia).

A Chairman and a board of directors govern the FRDC; the Executive Director 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 Corporation and the Executive Director. The board and the Executive Director are responsible for managing and evaluating the Corporation and its investments, and for reporting to government and the fishing and aquaculture industry. During 2012-13 the focus for the FRDC Board was 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 rural research and development corporations 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.[8]

The FRDC supports a network of Fisheries Research Advisory Bodies (FRABs) covering Commonwealth fisheries and the fisheries and aquaculture of each state and the Northern Territory. The FRABs have an extremely important role in optimising 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 encompass sectors of the fishing industry, and fisheries managers and researchers; most also include environmental and other community interests.[9]


Revenue sources[edit]

Entrance to Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Canberra, Australia

The primary revenue for the FRDC comes from the Australian Government and the fishing and aquaculture industry, 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.[9]

The Corporation also manages significant contributions by stakeholders in FRDC-funded projects. 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 customary. 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. A significant proportion of funding is therefore directed to research that has a public good benefit.[9]

Investment strategy[edit]

The FRDC invests in RD&E across the commercial fishing and aquaculture industry, and for the benefit of both recreational and indigenous customary fishers. The FRDC seeks to achieve maximum leverage from its investment by providing research administration and services using a value-adding model in which research projects are tailored to deliver a specific outcome and are actively managed and monitored. The FRDC commissions RD&E through a variety of flexible investment approaches, including an open call for project applications; formal partnership agreements with industry sectors; subprograms and coordination programs that are tailored to a specific industry sector 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 following 14 themes, as outlined in the Corporation’s 2010-2015 Strategic RD&E Plan.[10] The investment balance between themes, which may vary depending on strategic needs, is reported in each annual report.[11]

FRDC strategic research themes

Programs Themes

1. Biosecurity and aquatic animal health
2. Habitat 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

— Extracted from the FRDC's RD&E plan, 'Figure 1: Our planning environment', showing the drivers to which the Corporation responds, implementation, outputs and outcome.[12]

Relationships with stakeholders[edit]

In developing projects addressing the Corporation’s five programs, strategic directions are established in association with the FRDC’s stakeholders, which are:

  • the fishing and aquaculture industry
  • the federal, state and territory governments (including their fisheries managers and other natural resource managers)
  • research partners (including universities, fisheries research organisations, industry and private sector research providers, and investors)
  • the people of Australia (on whose behalf aquatic natural resources are managed, and as consumers).[13]

The FRDC works with its partners to undertake program management effectively, to disseminate the results, and to assist with their adoption and, when appropriate, commercialisation.

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. There are many common, national issues, but each sector faces unique challenges and has specific RD&E needs, which vary greatly around Australia. In developing the National RD&E Strategy and the Corporation’s RD&E Plan, the FRDC has consulted widely with a majority of these groups and has undertaken industry research to build on knowledge gained through consultation. To ensure a balanced portfolio, and to align with industry research priorities, the large majority of project applications are reviewed by the FRABs. Where possible, industry and fisheries management are directly engaged and integrated into the delivery of each project.[14]

Australian Government priorities[edit]

The federal Minister for Agriculture, the Parliamentary Secretary and the Department of Agriculture set priorities that the Corporation is required to address. In 2009 the Australian Primary Industries Ministerial Council[15] endorsed a “statement of intent” to implement a National Primary Industries Research, Development and Extension Framework through 14 primary industry sectors and 7 cross-industry sectors. Within the framework, each industry sector and cross-sectoral issue was to be assessed for its RD&E capacity.[16] As its contribution to the framework, the FRDC and its stakeholders developed a landmark document setting out future directions for fishing and aquaculture RD&E: the National Fishing and Aquaculture RD&E Strategy 2010.[17]

Consultation and collaboration[edit]

Australian Fisheries Management Forum[edit]

The Australian Fisheries Management Forum comprises the heads of the federal, state and territory government agencies responsible for management of fisheries, who discuss strategic issues relating to fisheries and aquaculture management. The FRDC works with the forum, sitting as an invited representative to meetings, providing advice and ensuring forum priorities are incorporated into the Corporation’s RD&E planning processes.[14]

Representative organisations[edit]

Four representative organisations have been appointed under the PIERD Act, with which the FRDC consults and reports formally at their annual general meetings:

  • Australian Recreational and Sport Fishing Industry Confederation Inc. (trading as Recfish Australia)[18]
  • National Aquaculture Council Inc.[19]
  • Commonwealth Fisheries Association Inc.[20]
  • National Seafood Industry Alliance.[21][14]

Levy organisation: Australian Prawn Farmers Association[edit]

The FRDC administers a research and development levy on behalf of the Australian Prawn Farmers Association (APFA),[22] a levy organisation, which has a leading role with FRDC in ensuring its priorities are met. FRDC investments in prawn farming research and development is driven by the APFA’s RD&E Plan. The two entities enjoy a very close working relationship. The APFA has nominated that the majority of its investment is to be through co-investment with the Australian Seafood CRC.[23]

Industry sector bodies[edit]

The FRDC also has a close relationship with the National Seafood Industry Alliance.[24] The Alliance represents the commercial fishing, pearling and aquaculture industries through state industry councils and peak sector associations to build on the partnerships established with individual industry sectors.[25]

The FRDC also invests in, and partners, entities such as Southern Rocklobster Ltd,[26] Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association,[27] Tasmanian Salmonid Growers’ Association,[28] Australian Pearl Producers Association, Australian Prawn Farmers’ Association[29] and Australian Barramundi Farmers’ Association.[30][25]

Other rural research and development corporations[edit]

The FRDC joins with other rural research and development corporations – at the project level and more broadly in functional areas – on a range of activities to enhance joint strategic outcomes. Most significant are climate change projects, evaluation of RD&E, and the “Appetite for Excellence” primary producers tour – a competition for chefs, waiters and restaurateurs. The FRDC is a member of the Council of Rural Research and Development Corporations, participating in meetings of R&D corporations' executive directors, business managers and communications managers. The FRDC also provides advice and services in project management and the FRDC-developed project management software, OmniFish.[25]

Industry development[edit]

The FRDC works with various entities to develop the fishing and aquaculture industry in such matters as market development; strengthening trade and market access; developing standards, e.g. for responsible fishing; standardising names for Australian fish; developing quality management systems; and reaching agreement on sustainability. To that end, in 2001 the Corporation and a now defunct peak body of the commercial sector incorporated a not-for-profit company, Seafood Services Australia Ltd, with the mission “to enhance the profitability, international competitiveness, sustainability and resilience of the Australian seafood industry”.[31] Industry development activities suffered a setback in 2013, when the company ceased trading after "a significant reduction in the availability of funding".[32]

Australian Seafood Cooperative Research Centre[edit]

The FRDC initiated, and is a core participant in, the Australian Seafood Cooperative Research Centre.[33] The Centre's 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 – priorities aligned with the FRDC’s RD&E programs, in particular Program 2: Industry.[25]

Research partners[edit]

In any given year, the Corporation has under management about 300 active projects. Investment in research is the FRDC’s core business. As a result, it is vital to the FRDC’s success that it has excellent relationships with its research partners. The key research partners are:

The Australian fishing and aquaculture 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 customary fishers.[35]

Legislatively, the "fishing industry" is defined in the FRDC Regulations 1991, issued under the PIERD Act 1989, as "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 annually on their fishing. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people participate in commercial and recreational fishing, as well practising customary fishing. The legal rights around indigenous customary fishing are being refined over time and some aspects are now part of existing legislation and court 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 increase (1931 people) 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 the limited resource, leading to increases in price. Currently Australia’s commercial seafood production only provides about 28 per cent of domestic demand. In part because of the rising value of the Australian dollar, the commercial sector is now re-orienting 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.[36]

Australian commercial fisheries and aquaculture production 2010-11

2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 Change
Wild-catch sector $1.5bn (188,488t) $1.38bn (181,601t) $1.4bn (173,142t) $1.3bn (171,512t) $: -1.0)
t: -0.9%
Aquaculture sector $806m (60,142t) $869m (64,032t) $867m (70,092t) $870m (73,542t) $: +0.3%
t: +4.9%
Overall production $2.21bn (248,481t) $2.21bn (240,479t) $2.21bn (237,508t) $2.18bn (241,123t) $: -1.3%
t: +1.5%

It is not only seafood for consumption that the Australian industry produces. Pearls are a high value consumer item that is produced at the highest level of quality through advanced technology and environmental credentials, making it one of Australia’s most valuable and sustainable fishing sectors.


  1. ^ FRDC (2010). Investing for tomorrow's fish: the FRDC's research, development and extension plan 2010–2015 (PDF). Canberra: FRDC. p. i. ISBN 978-0-9808007-1-5. 
  2. ^ FRDC RD&E plan, 2010, p. 6.
  3. ^ "Rural R&D corporations". Retrieved 29 June 2014. 
  4. ^ FRDC RD&E plan, 2010, p. 4.
  5. ^ FRDC (2013). Fisheries Research and Development Corporation annual report 2012–2013 (PDF). Canberra: FRDC. p. ix. 
  6. ^ FRDC annual operational plan, 2013, p. 17.
  7. ^ FRDC RD&E plan, 2010, p. ix.
  8. ^ FRDC (2012). FRDC annual operational plan 2012–13 (PDF). Canberra: FRDC. p. 11. 
  9. ^ a b c FRDC annual operational plan, 2013, p. 11.
  10. ^ FRDC annual operational plan, 2013, p. 8.
  11. ^ FRDC annual report 2012–2013, p. 9.
  12. ^ FRDC RD&E plan, 2010, pp. 2–3.
  13. ^ FRDC RD&E plan, 2010, p. 5.
  14. ^ a b c FRDC annual operational plan, 2013, p. 14.
  15. ^ Primary Industries Ministerial Council
  16. ^ "National Primary Industries Research, Development and Extension Framework". Retrieved 29 June 2014. 
  17. ^ "National Fishing and Aquaculture RD&E Strategy 2010" (PDF). Retrieved 29 June 2014. 
  18. ^ Recfish Australia
  19. ^ National Aquaculture Council
  20. ^ Commonwealth Fisheries Association
  21. ^ National Seafood Industry Alliance
  22. ^ Australian Prawn Farmers Association
  23. ^ FRDC annual operational plan, 2013, p. 15.
  24. ^ National Seafood Industry Alliance
  25. ^ a b c d e FRDC annual operational plan, 2013, p. 16.
  26. ^ Southern Rocklobster Ltd
  27. ^ Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association
  28. ^ Tasmanian Salmonid Growers’ Association
  29. ^ Australian Prawn Farmers Association
  30. ^ Australian Barramundi Farmers’ Association
  31. ^ FRDC (2012). Evolution of the FRDC to 2012 (PDF). Canberra: FRDC. p. 15. 
  32. ^ "Seafood Services Australia closes its doors". Retrieved 29 June 2014. 
  33. ^ Australian Seafood Cooperative Research Centre
  34. ^ Rural research and development corporations
  35. ^ FRDC RD&E plan, 2010, p. 13.
  36. ^ ABARES (2011). Australian fisheries statistics 2010 (PDF). Canberra: Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences. pp. 16–19. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]