Have your say in FRDC research priority setting and funding process for the WA fishing industry

Here’s an opportunity for WA fishing industry members to have their say on how and where research and development funds should be allocated and to identify and prioritise potential WA fishing and aquaculture research priorities to be funded through the FRDC.

The Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) is a co-funded partnership between its two stakeholders, the Australian Federal Government and the fishing industry: commercial (wild catch and aquaculture), recreational and indigenous sectors.

Every dollar that the Western Australian industries provide to FRDC generates around $3.89 (5 year average) in investment back to WA through industry sector priority projects. In 2020/21 the WA contribution to FRDC was $1.426 million.

As part of their 2020-2025 Research and Development Plan, the FRDC will continue support for a network of Research Advisory Committees (RACs) located in each state, territory, and for the Commonwealth fisheries.

An independent review of the RAC process was carried out through 2020 (including substantial industry consultation) resulting in welcomed improvements to process. Some of the more substantial changes include:

  • RACs will no longer prepare individual strategic plans but concentrate on R&D priority setting under the umbrella of FRDC’s R&D Plan 2020-2025.
  • All RACs will now have a competitive approach to investment without the limit of specific budget allocations as in the past. This is to ensure that investment flows to where priorities are required within and between jurisdictions.
  • (Note: FRDC is legislatively required to return the dollar provided in any year by the industry back to the state through projects over a 5 year period).
  • Conflict of interest will be addressed by removing the requirement for project applications to be assessed by the RAC. The role now to be fulfilled by external reviewers who are experts in the field related to the application in hand and will also better involve expected end-users to ensure that project outputs are fit for purpose.

These changes will allow the RAC to give greater focus on industry driven R&D priority setting for project development and more fine-tuned delivery of project outcomes/outputs to identified end-users to ensure that positive impacts are delivered through investment.

RAC engagement will be broader than it was previously, with the FRDC looking to experiment with different approaches to making stakeholder input part of priority setting and updating. This may include extension officer services, open online workshops and access to RAC meetings during which stakeholders can describe their issues or needs as they relate to the five outcomes set out in the FRDC’s R&D Plan 2020-2025.

As such, the FRDC has recently reformed the WA based RAC. The new committee comprises a mix of expertise and representatives and has an extremely important role in maximising the efficiency of the FRDC’s planning process that assists in the identification, collation and prioritisation of R&D needs of WA fishing and aquaculture stakeholders for access to FRDC funding:

  • Brett McCallum, Independent Chair
  • Dr Matt Pember, WA Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC)
  • Leyland Campbell, RecFishWest
  • Dr Dan Gaughan, DPIRD Research Division
  • Heidi Mippy, indigenous fishing
  • Steven Davies, commercial fishing and aquaculture
  • Linda Williams, commercial fishing
  • Justine Arnold, aquaculture

How Industry Can Submit a Research Priority Application

Priorities can be submitted by anyone, at any time and will be considered by the WARAC at their regular meetings. Priorities can be submitted on the template available here.

The FRDC Research and Development Plan (2020-2025) sets out 5 outcomes for research investment. Priorities will need to fit within one of the following outcomes set out in the FRDC R&D Plan 2020–2025:

Priorities will need to demonstrate the clear link between the ‘need’ and the ‘end user beneficiaries’ to better deliver direct impact through FRDC investment. This is best done through letters of support or direct involvement of end users in the priority submission.

An outline of what FRDC will/will not fund is available here.

More information:

WARAC Contacts:

Chris Izzo                [email protected] / 0419 852 723

Alison Connolly       [email protected] / 0437 694 485

WAFIC Contact:

Matt Pember      [email protected]  / 0438 511 226