FRDC’s new network of extension officers across Australia is focused on improving the two-way exchange of information between the people in fishing and aquaculture and researchers.
FRDC has appointed regionally based extension officers across Australia to directly engage with the people involved in Indigenous, commercial and recreational fishing and aquaculture to increase the adoption of research outcomes and help tailor research and development (R&D) to their needs.
Managing director Dr Patrick Hone says FRDC is creating the network based on feedback from fishing and aquaculture stakeholders.
“They told us that we needed a team on the ground, in the regions, to help accelerate the adoption of R&D outcomes and drive practice change,” he says.
“The extension officers will help increase our engagement with people at the grassroots.”
The FRDC extension officer appointed in Western Australia is Felicity Horn.
Patrick says the new staff have been chosen for their extension skills, experience and knowledge of fishing and aquaculture and their connections to sectors and regional communities.
“Their broad remit is to work with people and stakeholders to extend R&D outputs that meet user needs, incorporate their input into R&D priorities and bring people together to solve problems,” he says.
The extension officers will look at solutions for regional issues in ways that can be adapted across the country, and will help all stakeholders tap into previous, current and future research to find workable solutions.
Seafood Industry Australia (SIA) Chief Executive Officer Veronica Papacosta has welcomed the extension officers and the greater engagement with industry to share knowledge.
“SIA looks forward to these officers growing FRDC’s R&D outputs and providing solutions to industry problems and challenges,” she says.
“I am hopeful that the new model will foster closer relationships between end-users and FRDC, which should ensure better uptake of research and improved identification of local research, development and extension needs,” he says.
Felicity has 20 years of advocacy experience representing WA’s commercial fishing and aquaculture sectors, and a Bachelor of Science in Aquatic Resource Management – Aquaculture.
She was formerly Executive Officer of the Shark Bay Prawn Trawler Operators’ Association and part-time Administrative Officer for the Aquaculture Council of WA.
She has also served as a Board Member of the WA Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC) and the Australian Council of Prawn Fisheries, and she worked for WAFIC for 14 years, including as Executive Officer.
During this time, she travelled extensively throughout WA to meet with stakeholders in recreational and commercial fishing, traditional owners, conservation groups and government representatives.
Among her career achievements, Felicity played a key role in assisting commercial, recreational and charter fishing interests to reach agreement on resource sharing issues and had a lead role in the Shark Bay Prawn Fishery’s Marine Stewardship Council certification program. Felicity grew up in a rock lobster fishing family in Dongara, WA, and is passionate about ensuring that the state’s seafood sector is recognised by the broader community as sustainable, responsible and valuable. She is keen to support sector and other stakeholder groups to access R&D.
“I think there’s been a gap in this area for a while with many across our sectors wanting to invest in research but not having the time to look into it or knowing how to go about it. I’d like to see my new role bridge that gap.”
Felicity says as a Board Member for the Australian Council of Prawn Fisheries, she saw the practical value of investment in research on topics such as onboard processing and is keen to help other seafood sectors reap similar benefits.
“People in the industry have had their heads down in survival mode, so I’m keen to support them to maximise R&D in areas that will make a tangible difference to their future.”
As the newly appointed FRDC extension officer in WA Felicity aims to contact stakeholders but this may take some time.
You are welcome to email at firstname.lastname@example.org alternatively contact us on 0437 459 902 and we will put you in touch with Felicity.