R&D Strategy 2007-12




1. Introduction

2. Seafood Industry Overview

3. Key R&D Priority Areas for Fisheries and Aquaculture in SA

Program 1: Natural Resources Sustainability
Strategic Priorities
Targeted Priorities

Program 2: Industry Development
Strategic Priorities
Targeted Priorities

Program 3: Human Capital Development
Strategic Priorities 
Targeted Priorities

Program 4: Management and Accountability
Strategic Priorities
Targeted Priorities

Linkage to other plans and strategies

Commonwealth Government and Backing Australia’s Ability II

FRDC priorities and goals

Australian Seafood CRC

4. The Funding Application Process

5. Fisheries and Aquaculture R&D capacity in South Australia

6. The South Australian Fisheries Research Advisory Board

7. Resource Sustainability

  • Commercial Capture Fisheries
  • Aquaculture
  • Recreational Fisheries
  • Traditional (indigenous) fisheries
  • Environment and Conservation
  • Business environment

8. The Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC)

9. Other R&D Plans

10. References

11. Glossary


1. Introduction

South Australia’s seafood industry, including the wild fisheries, farmed seafood and the processing sectors, has enormous potential for growth. World demand for seafood is strong and Australian seafood is recognised for its quality in global and domestic markets, as well as for its sustainable industry base.

The estimated gross value of production to South Australia from the fisheries and aquaculture industry sectors was $375 million in 2004-05 (ABARE: Australian Fisheries Statistics– 2005). This was down from $490 million in 2001 caused mainly by a fall in the value of farmed southern bluefin tuna.  The value of wild caught production increased from $183 million in 2003-04 to $188 million in 2004-05, driven predominately by an increase in the value of Australian sardine production (from $22.5 million to $28.5 million in 2004-05).  In addition, there was an annual recurrent expenditure of $148 million by the State’s recreational fishers (ABARE: Australian Fisheries Statistics 2005). Utilisation of SA’s fisheries resources provides significant economic benefits to the State including providing employment for about 3000 people, directly or indirectly, through downstream processing and handling (ABARE: Australian Fisheries Statistics–2005).

The South Australian Government recognises the importance of the fishing and aquaculture industries to this State and the need to ensure that the resources are sustainably managed for future generations.  Fisheries are managed to ensure minimal impact, recognition is given to the other users of the marine environment and the needs of the marine ecosystem are considered. To be successful this approach requires a genuine and committed partnership between all stakeholder groups.
Effective research and development programs need to be implemented to ensure that the information required to sustainably manage these important natural resources is available.  With world-class research facilities in South Australia, the State Government, in partnership with industry and other stakeholders, aims to conduct vital research and development programs and work in close collaboration with the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and other funding agencies to maximise the returns on our funding investments.

Industry stakeholders include commercial, recreational, and indigenous fishers, communities, consumers, government, aquaculturists, processors, retailers and a wide range of service providers.  Community stakeholders include the conservation sector, local communities and the Australian community as a whole.

South Australia is fortunate to have a number of key stakeholder groups committed to effectively managed fisheries and aquaculture industries, including commercial, recreational and conservation beneficiaries. Many of these sectors have produced their own R&D strategies, including a vision for development within a framework of sustainability. Overall, South Australia’s fisheries and aquaculture resources are managed to ensure realisation of the ideals of improved utilisation leading to sustainable use and enhancement of the resources. For industry this translates to increased profitability and rational access security arrangements. 

The most effective use and management of fisheries and aquaculture, both in the short and long term, requires:

1. informed advice based on sound data;

2. a sensitivity to current and evolving social, economic and environmental conditions; and,

3. a balance between the duties of environmental stewardship to future generations, the needs  of the fishing and aquaculture industries, and responsibilities to the community at large.

The purpose of this strategy is, therefore, to:

1. outline and prioritise the major R&D issues for South Australia’s fishing and aquaculture industries;

2. explain the process and annual timetable for making R&D funding applications; and,

3. develop mechanisms to extend the results of R&D and provide a foundation to improve the benefits returned to all South Australians arising from more focused investment in R&D.

2. Seafood Industry Overview

South Australia’s fisheries resources are owned by the Crown, and support significant commercial fishing activity, recreational fishing and some subsistence and traditional fishing. The very nature of fish and their habitats means that fisheries resources are also of direct interest to a range of other stakeholders, including environmental groups, resource managers, researchers, indigenous and community groups. In the context of this publication, the term Fish includes all living aquatic vertebrate and invertebrate organisms, including marine mammals and reptiles, and such organisms after they have been harvested.

The seafood industry includes any industry or activity conducted within Australian waters or from an Australian territory concerned with harvesting, culturing, processing, preserving, storing, transporting, marketing, or selling fish or fish products. The three principal seafood industry sectors are the recreational, commercial, and traditional sectors. The commercial sector includes aquaculture and is also referred to as the seafood industry.

South Australians also value the marine environment aesthetically; they appreciate its beauty and acknowledge the linkages to a healthy lifestyle. This connection is important to commercial and non-commercial users alike who derive benefits through recreation, tourism, conservation, pleasure boating and diving. 

In addition to fishing and shell-collecting in accordance with their traditions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people also pursue recreational fishing (that is, not using traditional practices), subsistence fishing (following traditional or recreational practices), and commercial fishing.  

3. Key R&D Priority Areas for Fisheries and Aquaculture in SA

This Strategy identifies three features as particularly important throughout the R&D project development process:

1. the involvement of all stakeholders;

2. transparency throughout the process; and

3. the provision of a plan that can be used to determine, guide and assess key R&D proposals by:

a. identifying priority R&D needs that will support the development of relevant projects;

b. instilling confidence in R&D funding agencies and sponsors that projects are well- planned and provide value for money;

c. offering guidance to R&D providers (the research community) on the types of applications that are likely to gain support;

d. allowing those interested or involved in fisheries and aquaculture to discern what R&D projects are planned and how they relate to their interests and involvement;

e. indicating a balance between tactical and strategic (longer term) needs;

f. indicating that plans for future contingencies exist; and

g. identifying potential management issues.

The early recognition of critical issues and the identification of priorities, R&D needs, and the rigorous and comprehensive implementation of outcomes are essential for the proper development of our fisheries and aquaculture resources.

To focus the R&D effort and manage funds in an effective manner the FRAB works to ensure:

1. Each sector of the industry identifies R&D priorities on an annual basis. These priorities should be translated into research programs that are developed jointly with the research community;

2. The research community works with industry in a proactive fashion to develop research programs (and project funding applications) of mutual interest;

3. Account is taken of other stakeholders who, whilst not directly benefiting from the natural resource, nevertheless have a legitimate interest in such matters as to how the resources are harvested and how the harvesting affects the environment. It is important that this group recognises that it;

a) has an important role to play;

b) understands the need for it to advance R&D programs which address its concerns;

c) and has responsibilities to the wider community in this respect.

SAFRAB urges all stakeholders to collaborate during the identification and development of R&D programs.  Assessment of the merit of R&D proposals for funding is weighted heavily towards this requirement.

The overall objective of the process is to develop knowledge and processes to manage fisheries and aquaculture resources in a holistic and ecosystem-based manner based on the following four program areas:

Program 1: Natural Resources Sustainability

Goal: Natural Resources are utilised in a way that can be maintained indefinitely.

Strategic Priorities

Support Projects that:

• Define resources and create objective measures of the health of resources that can then be used as a benchmark against which changes in the health of the resources can be measured.
• Define threats to resources and create objective measures of the magnitude of each threat.
• Develop ways to manage the threats to resources.
• Predict how changing a threat affects the health of the resource.
• Enhance governance arrangements for more innovative, responsive and effective management of the resources.

Targeted Priorities

• Environmental protection (social/economic/environmental interactions)
• Effects of climate change on the fisheries and aquaculture resources
• Effects/mitigation of pollution on fisheries habitat/ecosystems
• Stocks assessment/sustainability/management
• Stock enhancement
• Accurate measurement of fishing effort
• Improved environmental monitoring systems
• Develop codes of environmental best practice

Program 2: Industry Development

Goal: The seafood industry is efficient, profitable and socially and environmentally responsible. Recreational and traditional sectors enjoy their interaction with the resource.

Strategic Priorities

Support projects that:

• Eliminate technical barriers to improved social, economic and environmental efficiency in fisheries and aquaculture production.
• Evaluate the non-biological implications of regulation, including the processes of changing access arrangements.
• Identify the best use and highest economic value for seafood production (thus, maximising the return to the community on extractive production).
• Promote the true value of fisheries and aquaculture to the community-at-large.

Targeted Priorities

• Resource sharing/access security
• Compliance/illegal fishing
• Public perception of the industry
• Post harvest enhancement/supply chain management
• Maintain highest standards of integrated technology across the industry
• Innovative marketing techniques
• Farm husbandry
• Nutrition of farmed species
• Propagation
• Fish health

Program 3: Human Capital Development

Goal: To increase the professionalism and effectiveness of people in the industry and those providing support services to the industry.

Strategic Priorities

Support projects that:

• Increase communication and linkages among and between industry participants and service providers, eg seminars, field days and conferences.
• Develop leadership and communication skills in industry participants (eg. fishers and farmers) and service providers (eg. scientists).
• Enable participatory co-management of resources at the decision making level.
Targeted Priorities
• Leadership skills training and consolidation of learning.
• Workplace skills enhancement for industry participants.
• Enhancement of industry communications/information transfer (including effective extension of research results).
Program 4: Management and Accountability
Goal: Extend/promote all benefits to South Australians arising from fishery related Research and Development projects.
Strategic Priorities
• Develop and promote a shared vision among all seafood industry stakeholders of a soundly planned future for South Australia’s marine resources.
• Focus the attention of R&D providers on projects that are consistent with that vision.
• Maintain a clear, methodical and transparent system to translate R&D priorities into endorsed projects and have them funded.
• Maintain and enhance linkages to collaborative bodies (such as the FRDC subprograms, the Australian Seafood CRC, other R&D and science policy coordinators and contractors) on a state and national basis to help identify and fund important R&D programs.

Targeted Priorities

• Raise the profile of the FRAB and generate a value on FRAB endorsement.
• Increase resources available to the FRAB.
• Maintain a long-term (strategic) R&D plan.
• Maintain an effective, all-inclusive and transparent project development protocol.
• Identify, promote and develop links to all possible funding sources.
• Influence all possible funding sources to maximise financial leverage in support of endorsed projects.

Linkage to other plans and strategies

The strategic priorities of the SAFRAB should be considered in context with the plans and strategies developed by cognate groups including the Commonwealth Government through the Backing Australia’s Ability initiative, the FRDC, the Australian Seafood CRC and the key industry sectors both in SA and nationally.

Commonwealth Government and Backing Australia’s Ability II

Key elements of this strategy include

Transforming the way we utilise our land, water, mineral and energy resources through a better understanding of human and environmental systems and the use of new technologies:

i. Water – a critical resource - Sustainable ways of improving water productivity, using less water in agriculture and other industries, providing increased protection of rivers and groundwater and the re-use of urban and industrial waste waters.
ii. Transforming existing industries - New technologies for resource-based industries to deliver substantial increases in national wealth while minimising environmental impacts on land and sea.
iii. Sustainable use of Australia’s biodiversity - Managing and protecting Australia’s terrestrial and marine biodiversity both for its own value and to develop long term use of ecosystem goods and services ranging from fisheries to ecotourism.
iv. Responding to climate change and variability - Increasing our understanding of the impact of climate change and variability at the regional level across Australia and addressing the consequences of these factors on the environment and on communities.


Promoting good health and well being for all Australians

Preventive healthcare - New ethical, evidence-based strategies to promote health and prevent disease through the adoption of:
• healthier lifestyles and diet, and
• the development of health-promoting products.


Safeguarding Australia from terrorism, crime, invasive diseases and pests, strengthening our understanding of Australia’s place in the region and the world, and securing our infrastructure, particularly with respect to our digital systems:

i. Protecting Australia from invasive diseases and pests - Counteract the impact of invasive species through the application of new technologies and by integrating approaches across agencies and jurisdictions.

FRDC priorities and goals

The latest FRDC strategic plan includes the following:

1. Natural resource sustainability –Maintain and improve the management and use of aquatic natural resources to ensure their sustainability.

2. Resource access and resource allocation – Optimise resource access, resource allocation and opportunities for each sector of the fishing industry, within a rights-based framework.

3. Response to demand; profitability–Respond to, and take advantage of, increased demand for seafood and for recreational and customary fishing experiences. Enhance the profitability of the fishing industry.
4. People development–Develop people who will help the fishing industry to meet its future needs.

5. Community and consumer support –Increase community and consumer support for the benefits of the three main sectors of the fishing industry.

Australian Seafood CRC

The Australian Seafood CRC seeks to fund research that addresses one or more of the 3 key outcomes for the seafood industry comprising:

1. Increased profitability and industry value through production innovation and efficient delivery of Australian seafood to the consumer.

2. Increased access to premium markets through fulfilment of consumer demands for safe, high-quality, nutritious Australian seafood. 

3. Increased demand resulting from consumers’ improved recognition of the health benefits of Australian seafood.

4. The Funding Application Process

Although the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) is the major source of funding for fisheries and aquaculture R&D, other sources of funding may be recommended to researchers where appropriate. For example: the Australian Research Council (ARC); AusIndustry; Australian Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture (AFFA), through Agriculture Advancing Australia (AAA) and its range of programs that include FarmBis; the National Heritage Trust (NHT); Land and Water Australia (LWA); etc.

The Fisheries and Aquaculture R&D Strategy (2007-2012) and funding application process developed in South Australia is expanded in detail for information of stakeholders at www.fishresearch.sa.gov.au.
The R&D priority setting process is set out in five steps (key dates are updated regularly for South Australia’s process and may be obtained online at www.fishresearch.sa.gov.au):

Step 1: Lodge a preliminary research application before the end of May each year and forms are available on the website. Applicants should ensure that they provide a compelling statement about the need for the research, who would benefit and in what way if the research were funded.

Step 2: Following feedback from SAFRAB, applicants should proceed to a full draft application by mid August via FRDC’s online application system available at www.frdc.com.au.

Step 3: If proceeding, applicants lodge an application to SAFRAB by end September for prioritising and ranking.

Step 4: Applicants lodge applications direct with FRDC by 1 November each year.

Step 5: Outcome expected by FRDC by April/May as to the success or otherwise of the application.

5. Fisheries and Aquaculture R&D capacity in South Australia

All stakeholders are committed to the development and implementation of research programs that deliver against the needs of stakeholders (cost-effective and relevant), while simultaneously providing the basis for sound management decisions (excellence in R&D) and thereby ensure ongoing and sustainable production in the industry.

South Australia is fortunate to have a well-resourced fisheries and aquaculture research capability through the State-based research agency SARDI (South Australian Research & Development Institute), the three Adelaide based universities, the Australian Fisheries Academy, and a range of other educational institutions and consulting groups. South Australia also uses research services provided by Commonwealth research agencies and collaborates effectively with institutions in other States particularly under the auspices of the CRC for Sustainable Aquaculture of Finfish (due to finish in June 2008) and the newly established (as of July 2007) Australian Seafood CRC.

The State’s research capability is strongly supported through the SA Government commitment to MISA (Marine Innovation SA) which comprises a formal linkage of the marine science R&D capabilities of SARDI, Flinders University, the SA Museum and the University of Adelaide.  By providing a framework for coordinating and developing the Marine Science capacity in South Australia, MISA supports the Ecologically Sustainable Development of SA Aquaculture and Fisheries Industries and ensures that we have the knowledge base to conserve and protect our natural environments.

MISA represents an investment of $25.8 million in R&D infrastructure and programs over the period 2005-2010. The funding includes a $13.7 million investment by the SA Government augmented by an additional investment of $2 million in infrastructure funding from Flinders University. Additional R&D funding from SA Universities, R&D providers and the Commonwealth government will contribute a further $10.1 million to support R&D over this period (with funding from a range of mechanisms including ARC, FRDC and relevant CRC’s).

As the lead MISA partner, the SA Government research agency SARDI, has its marine science headquarters at the South Australian Aquatic Sciences Centre at West Beach. This complex was completed in 1995 and features laboratories, a conference centre, library, and flow-through seawater and freshwater systems, including a shellfish and finfish hatchery complex, and environmentally controlled brood-stock holding tanks. SARDI’s research programs focus in four major discipline areas: capture fisheries, aquaculture, environment and inland waters.

The capture fisheries programs have a strong focus on sustainability which includes research to support ecosystems based management of fisheries.  Current capabilities cover all production sectors including the Rock lobster, Abalone, Prawn, Blue Crab, Sardine, Marine Scale and Lakes and Coorong fisheries.

SARDI has significant research capacity to support the aquaculture industry with a focus on Industry Development (species, sites and technologies), Environmental Sustainability (including reducing risks) and programs to enhance the competitiveness of the SA industry (increased production, reduced costs, optimized products).

SARDI’s Environment and Ecology Program delivers a comprehensive capacity that broadly integrates research on Fisheries Habitats with Environmental Assessment, Mitigation and Rehabilitation. The long-term goal for the Environment and Ecology program is to provide scientific and technical advice in respect of key issues in the management of aquatic environments. These include, but are not restricted to, developing our understanding about processes that degrade the environment, and developing tools to assess, mitigate and rehabilitate these environments.

The Inland Waters Program at SARDI has a broad focus on understanding the biology and ecology of key fish species in the states rivers and estuaries (including the internationally significant Murray, Lower Lakes and Coorong), as well as building our knowledge about the broader ecology of these systems including studies on water quality, water availability and the role of riparian systems.

The other MISA partners in South Australia (The University of Adelaide, Flinders University and The University of South Australia) also have considerable capability in marine sciences, particularly in the understanding of environmental impacts and the effects of fishing (Adelaide, Flinders), aquaculture (Flinders), and environmental modelling and information technology (South Australia). Resources include supercomputers, aquarium systems, and state-of-the-art laboratories that collectively provide essential research infrastructure in molecular, fluid, and biological sciences. The University of Adelaide operates a marine research station for students at Coobowie, on the Yorke Peninsula, and West Island off the Fleurieu Peninsula. Flinders University has similar facilities at Salt Creek on the Coorong.

The Lincoln Marine Science Centre is a research and teaching facility operated by Flinders University and situated in the heart of the aquaculture and fishing industry at Port Lincoln. Completed in 1996–97 at a cost of $2.5 million with support from the University, Federal Government, the fishing & aquaculture industries and the local community, the Lincoln Marine Science Centre provides a major base for teaching and research in marine sciences in South Australia. This facility has two running seawater aquarium systems allowing small-scale R&D, teaching and research laboratories, a lecture hall, a computer suite and office space. Currently housing staff from Flinders University, SARDI, PIRSA and the Spencer Institute of TAFE, the Lincoln Marine Science Centre provides interdisciplinary and interagency support for fishing and aquaculture research.

The Waite and Roseworthy Campuses of the University of Adelaide have modern, well-equipped laboratories for cell, microbial and molecular biology. The Australasian Experimental Stockfeed Extrusion Centre is owned and managed by SARDI, and located at Roseworthy. Facilities for “state-of- the-art” feed analysis are also located at SARDI’s Pig and Poultry Production Institute. These facilities include mass spectrometry, NMR and NIR. In addition, both The University of Adelaide and Flinders University have modern electron microscopy units.

The Australian Fisheries Academy, based at Port Adelaide, provides a central training base for state, national and international industry members. Its role is to underpin the development of the seafood industry of South Australia and to assist development at the national level through education and research.

Quality education facilities provide for future researchers and informed industry participation, and the fishing industry actively promotes the extension of relevant information through school curricula. Schools of Technical and Further Education (TAFE), and secondary and tertiary educational bodies in the State serve to promote greater awareness of the seafood industry and the skills involved.
6. The South Australian Fisheries Research Advisory Board

The South Australian Fisheries Research Advisory Board (SAFRAB) is appointed on a skills and expertise membership basis to reflect a broader and more independent representation of interests in the State’s fisheries resources. The major responsibilities of SAFRAB are to:

1. provide a forum to advise R&D priorities for both State and Commonwealth funded fisheries research;

2. commission R&D applications that address those priorities;

3. advise FRDC on the appropriateness and priority of applications attributing benefit to South
Australian related fisheries or industry sectors;

4. identify and utilise appropriate funding (including from FRDC);

5. develop and periodically update a State fisheries/aquaculture 5-year R&D strategy; and

6. advise the SA Fisheries Council and the Minister for Agriculture, Food & Fisheries as required.

The Chief Executive, Primary Industries & Resources South Australia, appoints the Chair and members for 3-year terms. Expertise-based appointments include the areas of:

• Chair - Independent
• Wild Catch Fishery
• Commercial Sector 
• Recreational Fishery
• Aquaculture Sector
• Science and Environment
• Fisheries management 
• Indigenous Sector
• Economics
• Research

An Executive Officer is employed part-time to support the activities of the Board.
An important activity of the Board is to commission and assess fisheries R&D applications annually and to provide recommendations on these applications to FRDC and other relevant agencies to support their consideration for funding. This process begins in early May with an R&D Priority Setting Workshop; a calling for Preliminary Research Proposals (PRPs) for late May on behalf of FRDC to be developed in consultation with industry and to be forwarded initially to the SAFRAB. The PRPs in FRDC's online format (www.fishnet.gov.au) are assessed by the Board and comprehensive applications are invited for projects that are considered to have merit and that meet State priorities for fisheries/and aquaculture research and development. These detailed applications, and others received from the FRDC Subprograms, are then reviewed and ranked by SAFRAB before being sent to FRDC by 1st November each year for consideration of funding. Applications are also referred to other funding agencies where necessary. Applicants for FRDC funding are advised of the final outcome of their application in April/May of the following year.
SAFRAB encourages close collaboration between researchers, fisheries managers, commercial operators and other fishing industry interests. Such collaboration focuses outcomes, minimises duplication of R&D effort, promotes the sharing of knowledge, and facilitates extension and/or commercialisation of results.

 7. Resource Sustainability

Sustainable management of marine resources is the responsibility of Primary Industries and Resources South Australia (PIRSA) under the Fisheries Management Act 2007. The principle objectives of The Act (Section 7) are to protect, manage, use and develop the aquatic resources of the State in a manner that is consistent with ecologically sustainable development and, to that end, the following principals apply:

  1. proper conservation and management measures are to be implemented to protect the aquatic resources of the State from over-exploitation and ensure that those resources are not endangered;
  2. access to the aquatic resources of the State is to be allocated between users of the resources in a manner that achieves optimum utilisation and equitable distribution of those resources to the benefit of the community;
  3. aquatic habitats are to be protected and conserved, and aquatic ecosystems and genetic diversity are to be maintained and enhanced;
  4. recreational fishing and commercial activities are to be fostered for the benefit of the whole community; and
  5. the participation of users of the aquatic resources of the State, and of the community more generally, in the management of fisheries is to be encouraged.

The production end of South Australia’s commercial seafood industry essentially comprises the aquaculture industry and wild-catch fishing sectors. There is also an important recreational fishery and provision for development of a traditional fishery under the Fisheries Management Act 2007. A significant factor in the growth in the value of South Australia’s capture fisheries and aquaculture has been the focus on industry development, market intelligence, post-harvest value-adding and enhanced processing which has occurred in recent years. South Australia is the second largest exporter (24% of the market– ABARE: Australian Fisheries Statistics–2001-2005) of seafood and one of the largest importers of seafood nationally.

Commercial Capture Fisheries

The commercial wild catch fishing sectors comprise:
• Abalone-encompassing the Southern, Western and Central Zone fisheries;
• Blue Swimmer Crab fishery;
• Lakes & Coorong fishery;
• Marine Scalefish (including a specific sardine fishery sector);
• Prawn fishery, encompassing the Gulf St Vincent, Spencer Gulf and West Coast fisheries; and
• Rock Lobster, encompassing the Northern and Southern Zone fisheries.

South Australia also benefits economically from a number of Commonwealth managed fisheries off the coast of the State, including southern bluefin tuna (which is also the major component of the aquaculture sector), southern shark fishery, the Great Australian Bight (GAB) trawl fishery and the South East Trawl Fishery (SETF).

The commercial capture fisheries contribute about $4 million annually under the State Government’s cost recovery policy to support ‘core’ stock assessment activities and to ensure management decisions are based on sound scientific data and information. The South Australian seafood industry also contributes annually and voluntarily to the FRDC funding base.

Management arrangements vary from fishery to fishery and include controls that regulate fishing activity (input controls) or, the amount of fish that may be caught (output controls) or a combination of both. A number of fisheries have undergone major restructures to ensure sustainable effort in the industry. These have resulted in substantial reductions in ‘effort’ from fisheries, mainly in the form of the number of licences and/or the amount and types of fishing gear being utilised.


Aquaculture has developed rapidly from its beginnings as a single species sector, viz. oysters in 1988, to today’s multi-species sector comprising:
• Sea cage systems—southern bluefin tuna, Atlantic salmon, yellowtail kingfish, snapper, and rock lobster;
• Deep-water shellfish—abalone, mussels;
• Intertidal shellfish—oysters; and
• Land-based systems—barramundi, marron, yabbies, algae, abalone.

Freshwater aquaculture development, mainly barramundi and freshwater crayfish, has had a less spectacular evolution than marine aquaculture; nevertheless, it is still a significant sector of the State’s industry. Heavy pressure on South Australia’s meagre freshwater resources may inhibit growth of freshwater aquaculture in the future unless efficiencies of use can be dramatically improved.  However, increased use of recirculating systems and recent advances in the use of saline groundwater resources for the purpose of aquaculture are promising new areas for development.

Several of the higher value aquaculture sectors contribute significantly to the funding of R&D, both directly to research providers and through the FRDC funding base. Under the Aquaculture Act (2001), The South Australian Aquaculture Advisory Council, comprising key stakeholders, advises the South Australian Government on any matter relating to the aquaculture industry.
Recreational Fisheries

The State’s recreational fishers total more than 328,000 SA residents over 5 years of age, with an additional 16,000 interstate fishers who fish in this State’s waters (Henry & Lyle, 2003). An estimated $145 million is attributed annually to recreational fishing, with significant proportions generated in regional SA, thereby benefiting local tourism (Jones & Doonan, 2005). There is a great diversity in the types of fishing platforms (jetties, natural shore and boats) utilised by recreational fishers, and recently, a licensed recreational charter boat fishery became operational throughout the State’s marine waters (Presser & Mavrakis, 2005).

Recreational fishers catch fish for a number of reasons, including, the enjoyment of relaxing and being outdoors, for food and for sport.  In sport fishing, catch-and-release fishing is a popular pursuit. Participating in organised large fishing competitions is also an increasingly popular recreational fishing activity. 

In the most recent survey of recreational fishing throughout this state (2000/01), greatest recreational effort (hrs fished) was expended on King George whiting, then on rock lobster, southern calamari, equally on golden perch and garfish, and then on blue crabs (Jones & Doonan, 2005).  Also, for some species, the recreational harvest was estimated to be more than that taken by the commercial sector.  These relatively high levels of catch and effort on these key species highlights the need for regular surveys to monitor such parameters as well as the resource share between sectors, as outlined in the management plans developed for each fishery.  A recreational fishing survey, identical in methodology to that undertaken in 2000/01 will commence in 2007/08.

An R & D strategy for recreational fishing was developed for the 2003 – 08 period by SARFAC, and this is currently being reviewed for the next 5 yr period.

Traditional (indigenous) Fisheries

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have had a close, interdependent relationship with the land, water and living resources of Australia and this has included traditional fishing practices.  Some of these customary practices are now recognised in Australian law through the native title legislation.  These rights are best reflected in the resolution of the Croker Island Native Title claim which set the precedent for traditional involvement in fisheries by native title claim groups.  The court found that while Native Title did exist over fisheries resources for traditional purposes, this did not include commercial or exclusive access or use.

In South Australia there are 11 Native Title claims which impact on fisheries resources and one additional community which has chosen to seek resolution through negotiation rather than through the courts.  The South Australian Government is committed to resolution through negotiation of Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs) and has established a stakeholder forum for negotiation of each of the claims.  The Fisheries Management Act 2007 provides for recognition of traditional fishing through Traditional Fishery Management Plans, which will accompany and support ILUAs, setting out the framework for management of any negotiated traditional fishing.

Indigenous involvement in commercial aquaculture or fishing ventures is managed subject to the Fisheries and Aquaculture Acts.
Environment and Conservation

Some of the State’s waters are protected either by legislation (e.g. protected areas and reserves) or by their extreme isolation.  There is also a further commitment from the State Government to develop 19 new marine parks within State waters by 2010.  In addition, seasonal closures occur in many fisheries as part of sustainable management practices.

The 2003 State of the Environment Report for South Australia provided an objective assessment of South Australia’s environment, pressures which may be impacting the environment, and how we are responding to those impacts.  The Report identified a number of key issues including:
• poor marine water quality and environmentally insensitive coastal development;
• lack of information on the marine and coastal environment;
• lack of information on the cumulative impact of aquaculture; and
• insufficient information on the impact that fishing has on fishery habitat & ecosystems.

A number of programs have been developed that seek to improve sustainable management of marine and coastal areas (e.g. Living Coast Strategy 2004).  Six key objectives for our coastal, estuarine and marine environments were identified as part of the Living Coast Strategy (2004).  The major objectives are to:
• provide a legislative and policy framework for ecologically sustainable development and use;
• conserve and safe guard the natural and cultural heritage;
• control pollution;
• protect our environmental assets;
• improve understanding of our environments;
• develop and maintain partnerships between state and local governments, community and industry.

Business Environment

South Australia is committed to a co-management approach to fisheries management and, under the Fisheries Act 1982 and associated regulations, operated within this framework for the past 10 years.  During this time Fisheries Management Committees (FMCs) comprising representatives from key stakeholder groups, advised the Minister on day-to-day management of each of the State’s fisheries.  The Fisheries Management Act 2007 provides for a Fisheries Council operating at a whole of State level, replacing the fishery-specific FMCs.  The opportunity provided to industry under this new legislation is for each sector to develop a consultative mechanism that suits their method of management and operation providing for a more flexible, and potentially commercially responsive, management approach.

Commercial fishing licence holders are required to meet the agreed attributed costs of all services required in support of the commercial sector, including the necessary Government mandated services of research (biological and economic), management and compliance.  The State Government on behalf of the recreational fishery and the ‘public good’ contributes an additional funding component.  A similar cost recovery approach applies in the aquaculture sector.

There is significant progress towards complying with a national ESD assessment and reporting framework being applied to all Australian fisheries through the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999 managed by the Commonwealth Department of Environment and Water Resources. This will become an integral part of fisheries management. Although the primary goal is to assist and improve fisheries management, the reporting framework is also intended to address an increasing number of environmental and other requirements set out by legislation, certification schemes, and consumer and community demands.  All South Australian fisheries have now been certified against the EPBC legislation and have received export certification.

With a comprehensive, national approach, individual fisheries should be well placed to show how they are performing against ESD objectives.  The South Australian seafood industry conforms enthusiastically to this approach.  Examples of real ESD working in South Australia include: Southern Rock Lobster, Clean Green certification and the Spencer Gulf and West Coast Prawn Fisheries Association, Committee at Sea and real time fishing management practices.

With emphasis firmly on maintaining a sustainable catch, further industry development of the wild fishing sector is reliant upon increasing the value of the catch, and minimising and making more efficient use of by-catch species. Consequently, the demand is for more innovative, value-adding techniques such as expanding product ranges to make better use of by-catch, improving packaging and product differentiation, adopting quality management systems and focusing on premium markets. Research priorities reflect this need. Fishers are also adopting better practices, some of them underpinned by formal codes of practice, to protect fish quality during harvesting.  Progress towards the goal fits neatly with the Food Act (2001) that outlines more stringent food safety requirements. This is leading the industry towards higher quality control and food safety procedures, and, consequently, an enhanced capability to satisfy local and overseas market demands which, in turn, attracts higher commodity prices.


Australian Fisheries Statistics–2001 released by ABARE record that the value of fisheries products exported nationally has doubled from about $1 billion in 1990– 1991 to $2.2 billion in 2000–2001. In 2004-05 Australia’s total exports of fisheries products were valued at $1.54 billion.  The most important export markets (by value) for Australian seafood products are Japan (32%) and Hong Kong (30%).  The main products exported to Hong Kong were rock lobster ($149 million) and abalone ($147 million).  Rock lobster was also the major fisheries product exported to the United States, valued at almost $100 million (78% of all Australian seafood exports to the US by value). Over 63% of whiting exports went to Thailand and the majority of canned finfish exports went to New Zealand. In 2004-05 rock lobster continued to be the most valuable fisheries product exported, followed by pearls and abalone.  By value, 80% of Australia’s total exports of fisheries products comprised rock lobster, tuna, abalone and prawns.  The remaining 20% of exports were non edible fisheries products (pearls, fish meal, marine fats and oils). Chinese Taipei and the USA imported 95% of Australia’s rock lobster, 87% of abalone, 71% of prawn and 65% of finfish exports in 2000–2001.

Singapore and China were also important markets for Australian seafood products, importing primarily crustaceans and molluscs. Within Australia, South Australia (along with Queensland) was the leading exporter of finfish, supplying 47% of all Australian finfish exports by value ($145.5 million).  South Australia and Western Australia are the main exporters of crustaceans ($931 million), with SA supplying almost 17% of crustacean exports by value ($156.5 million).  Of the value of total edible fisheries products exported from Australia, South Australia provided 24% ($302 million). (ABARE Australian Fisheries Statistics 2005). 


Australia imported $1.17 billion of fisheries products in 2004-05, an increase of 6% (or $66 million) from the previous year.  Almost 82% ($959 million) of the gross value of imports was edible fisheries products, consisting of finfish, crustaceans and molluscs and in particular, prawns, frozen finfish fillets and canned fish.  The remaining $213 million of imports consisted of non-edible fisheries products, such as pearls, fish meal and marine fats and oils (also a 6% increase over 2003-04).  (ABARE Australian Fisheries Statistics 2005). 

Useful websites for further information/statistics:
Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE): www.abare.gov.au; and
Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC): www.frdc.com.au.

8. The Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC)

The Fisheries R&D Corporation (FRDC) is based in Canberra and its mission is to increase economic and social benefits for the seafood industry and the people of Australia, through planned investment in research and development, within an ecologically sustainable framework.

FRDC places considerable emphasis on the advice of the State-based FRABs in assessing technical merit, conformity with the State R&D Strategy, the FRDC R&D Plan and the degree of support for project applications not only at the State level, but nationally from stakeholders that will benefit from the research. All applications that allocate a significant flow of benefits (FOB) to a particular State or Territory are automatically referred to that State or Territory FRAB for advice, providing comments to applicants and the setting of priorities.

The FRDC Subprograms have well developed processes to plan and oversee specific R&D programs or activities. Relevant information, including Subprogram structures and R&D priorities, is available from the FRDC website. Applications for funding of Subprogram R&D projects are solicited annually within normal funding rounds, and submitted to the state FRABs who then assist with coordination of the process and provide advice to the FRDC about overall state priorities for funding. FRDC uses this advice to assess funding applications on a national basis.

The FRDC posts a comprehensive website at www.frdc.com.au, including links to each of the Subprograms and the State FRABs, as well as the online application software – FishNet, and strongly encourages all potential applicants to visit the website and contact the relevant bodies prior to submitting applications.
9. Other R&D Plans

The SAFRAB articulates with all other national and subprogram R&D Strategies.  A comprehensive list of the links to many of these strategies is available on FRDC’s website (www.frdc.com.au).
The following R&D plans are relevant and are developed by the organisations or under the following titles:

• Southern Bluefin Tuna Aquaculture R&D Strategic Plan (FRDC);
• Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Sustainable Aquaculture of Finfish (FRDC);
• Rock Lobster Post Harvest Subprogram (FRDC);
• Rock Lobster Enhancement and Aquaculture Subprogram (FRDC);
• Aquatic Animal Health Subprogram (FRDC);
• Abalone Aquaculture Subprogram (FRDC);
• Atlantic Salmon Aquaculture Subprogram (FRDC);
• Effects of Trawling Subprogram (FRDC);
• Abalone Aquaculture Subprogram (FRDC);
• Aquaculture Diet Development Subprogram (FRDC);
• Aquaculture Nutrition Subprogram (FRDC);
• ESD Reporting and Assessment Subprogram (FRDC);
• Southern & Eastern Scalefish & Shark fishing Industry Development Subprogram (FRDC)

10. References

  • Henry, G.W., & Lyle, J.M. (2003)  The National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey.  Final Report FRDC  Grant No. 99/158.  188 pp.
  • Jones, G.K. & Doonan, (2005)  2000-01 National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey.  South Australian Regional Information.  SA Fisheries Management Series.  Paper No. 46, July 2005. 99 pp.
  • Presser, J.P. & Mavrakis, V (2005) Management Plan for the South Australian Recreational Charter Boat Fishery. SA Fisheries Management Series.  Paper No. 43, May 2005. 22 pp.


11. Glossary


the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.


Cooperative Research Centre, particularly including Aquafin (CRC for Sustainable Aquaculture of Finfish – due to finish in 2008) and the Australian Seafood CRC (from July 2007)


A community of organisms, interacting with one another, plus the environment in which they live and with which they also interact.


(ecologically sustainable development): Using, conserving and enhancing the community’s resources so that ecological processes, on which life depends, are maintained and the total quality of life, now and in the future, can be increased.
Fisheries Council   
Peak management advisory committee reporting to the State Government, replacing Fisheries Management Committees 

fisheries managers

Officers of  government agencies who manage  Commonwealth, State or Northern  Territory fisheries.

Fisheries Act

The Fisheries Management Act 2007
– An Act to provide for the conservation and management of the aquatic resources of the State of South Australia, the management of fisheries and aquatic reserves, the regulation of fishing and the processing of aquatic resources, the protection of aquatic habitats, aquatic mammals and aquatic resources and the control of exotic aquatic organisms and disease in aquatic resources [to repeal the Fisheries Act 1982 and the Fisheries (Gulf St Vincent Prawn Fishery Rationalisation Act 1987; to make related amendments to other Acts; and for other purposes].


A class of activities by way  of fishing, including activities identified  by reference to all or any of

• a species or type of fish;
• a description of fish by reference  to sex or any other characteristic;
• an area of water or seabed;
• a method of fishing;
• a class of boats;
• a class of persons; and/or,
• a purpose of activities, as determined by the relevant management


Fisheries Research Advisory Board


The Fisheries Research and Development Corporation


the State Minister holding the portfolio responsibility for fisheries


Primary Industries and Resources South Australia. The Government agency responsible for the management of fisheries and aquaculture in SA


Research and development

R&D Plan  

The South Australian Fisheries and Aquaculture Five-Year Research and Development Strategy


strategic and  tactical/applied

Strategic research, the underlying issues may be fundamental, and the  results on economic or practical problems are neither immediate nor direct as  are those of tactical research.  Projects will be relevant to a broad sector  within which it is expected that useful knowledge will emerge.
Tactical research is research that, if successful, can be used directly and     applied in a practical way to meet a government or industry need.  (Source:    Harden Jones, F.R. Fisheries Ecologically Sustainable Development:  Terms    and Concepts). Tactical research is often termed “applied research”.


A source of supply,  support or aid.


South Australian Research and Development Institute


Includes fish and fish products for human consumption. Includes any industry or activity carried on in or from Australia concerned with: taking, culturing, processing, preserving, storing, transporting, marketing, or selling fish or fish products.

seafood industry

Includes any  industry or activity carried on in or from Australia concerned with: taking,  culturing, processing, preserving, storing,  transporting, marketing, or selling fish or  fish products. The seafood industry comprises the recreational, commercial, and indigenous sectors. The commercial sector also includes the pearling sector.


Commercial, recreational, and indigenous fishers, communities, consumers, government, aquaculturists, processors, retailers and a wide range of service providers.