R&D Investment 2015 – 2019 update

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In this blog post we give you the round up of all the R&D investment news, from information about the national levy, to industry partnerships, priorities and more.

National levy proposal on hold

Bruce Zippel, Oysters Australia chairman, Smokey Bay, SA

The Oysters Australia Board, which incorporates the oyster industries from SA, NSW and Tas agreed to a longer term for implementation for the national levy proposal.

“Last year we started talking to growers around Australia about a proposal to replace the state based R&D levies with a national levy for two main reasons;

  • Better efficiency ie better bang for buck
  • Allows investment in things other than traditional science

Just as growers asked, we’ll be working on a costed proposal and the exact mechanics of how a levy would work at some point in future.

We also understand there are a number of financial imposts on the national oyster industry at the moment due to changes to other levies and costs on a state by state basis. So we believe this is a responsible decision on behalf of Australian oyster growers.

When we have a proposal finalised, once again, we will be talking to the Australian oyster industry.”

NB: The new date to work towards a formal opinion of growers is 2017.

Working on better communication

After a few trials to see what worked best for the oyster industry, OA has started a multi-pronged approach:

  • Presentation & questions at each of the annual state conferences
  • Recorded ‘talking heads’ “Australia’s Talking Oysters” with associated e-news (July edition due ASAP) once a quarter.
  • Annual ‘Return on investment’ 1 page report issued with state production returns
  • Updates whenever requested by state groups

One face to face OA meeting (approx. March each year) plus teleconferences approx. every 2 months (held a few weeks in advance of FRDC Board meetings).  Restart of topical working groups including people who aren’t normally around the table.

Oysters Australia (OA) and Fisheries Research and Development (FRDC) Industry Partnership Agreement (IPA)

In time for the close of the Seafood CRC, Oysters Australia (OA) and Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) have entered into an IPA.  An IPA allows the oyster industry to invest according to its own strategic plan rather than via cross-sector priorities (as it operated before 2007). The IPA is effective from 1 July 2014 and joins 8 other sectors with an IPA.  OA talked through the details from March 2013, agreed in October 2013 and the agreement was signed by both parties in July 2014.

2015-2019 R&D budget tighter than 2007-2014

With the loss of the Seafood CRC, the oyster R&D budget is reduced from approx. $600K pa to an estimated $400K. When entering the IPA each of NSW, SA & Tas agreed to invest at 0.25% GVP (less Ministerial waivers in NSW). This meant an increase in investment in SA.

The budget has already been allocated until July 2015 when the Norovirus survey and a necessary addition to the POMS breeding project were approved.

Budget for management, industry travel and communications was cut to meet 10-12% of the lower available budget.

Big R&D priorities for 2015-2019 and proposals under consideration

The full details of R&D high priorities can be found in Oysters Australia’s draft 2014-2019 strategic plan. The emphasis is on predicting and managing around any cause of mortality to lift profitability rather than combatting just one or two specific diseases. The proposals on the table for funding consideration for 2015 onwards are:

Managing & protecting against disease

  • The application of oyster cardio-physiology for on-farm sentinel monitoring of environment and animal health
  • Evidence based oyster farm management tool
  • Sustainable Oyster Assessment Program
  • POMS – closing knowledge gaps to continue farming C. gigas in Australia

Species diversification

  • Addressing the key factors inhibiting the development of the native oyster aquaculture industry in South Australia
  • Farm management of bonamiasis in flat oysters (Ostrea angasi)

Market access & shellfish safety

  • Safefish

Improving business profitability

  • NSW Oyster Industry Strategic Development Plan

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