Global leaders in innovative, sustainable lobster management

Two new research programs to the value of $1 million are approved and underway!

Western Rock Lobster (WRL) is pleased to announce that two research program proposals to the value of $1 million have been approved through our Industry Partnership Agreement (IPA) with the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC). These programs will deliver significant benefits to industry over the next three years and beyond!

During the past 18 months WRL have worked hard to establish projects that will benefit industry. The FRDC Board’s rejection of our three program proposals in November 2017 created an extremely valuable process of reflection and strategic planning for WRL. This resulted in the development of a strategy for the western rock lobster industry to achieve $1 billion GVP by 2028. One of the most important elements of this growth strategy is the establishment of a WA based Australasian Institute for Spiny Lobster Research by 2020, which will create the science and innovation that will secure the industry’s future, drive GVP growth and maintain international competitiveness.

This two-year timeframe creates an impetus to revive the WRL IPA with FRDC in order to progress important industry research until an institute is up and running. It is in industry’s best interests for WRL to progress the projects within those IPA programs while we explore the merits of establishing a more efficient and effective vehicle for delivering industry benefit from R&D expenditure through the proposed Australasian Institute for Spiny Lobster Research.

At the WRL Board meeting on 9 May 2018 it was agreed that WRL should re-engage in the IPA with the following conditions:

  • That IPA projects and funding can transition across to an institute should one be established
  • Reduced administrative burden to approve projects and administer the IPA
  • An improved return on investment including more than the planned 70% in 2018/19 available from fees paid used to fund IPA projects
  • Demonstrable benefit to the western rock lobster industry from the IPA
  • The IPA is a true partnership and the relationship between FRDC and WRL reflects this

WRL travelled to Canberra in May 2018 to meet with FRDC to discuss the institute proposal, the IPA and these conditions. On the basis of those discussions, WRL have re-engaged in the IPA and subsequently re-written two program proposals: ‘Digitising the Western Rock Lobster Industry’ and ‘Understanding the Markets for Western Rock Lobster’. These two program proposals, with a combined value of $950,000, have since been approved by the FRDC Board. So what are they all about and what benefits will they deliver to our members and the western rock lobster industry?

Digitising the Western Rock Lobster Industry ($550,000)

Industry needs to adopt new digital technology to benefit from the digital economy and ensure industry is efficient, highly productive and world-leading in all its management practices and policies. This is fundamental to achieving the WRL Strategic Plan objectives and aims to develop the western rock lobster industry’s competitiveness in digital technologies and ensure that the industry can draw the full benefits from digital innovation.

WRL needs to scope what other fisheries and non-fishing industries are doing nationally and internationally with collecting data and use it in new and innovative ways to improve operations, management, policy, science and decision making.

WRL will engage an experienced digital technology expert to help define and scope the industry’s current and future digital environment and needs based on an international and national scan. These new digital technologies such as a real time quota trading, new catch applications with auto data entry, digital traceability from catch to plate, new monitoring and sensor technology (lobster, processing and environment) and on-line OH&S to name a few will be individually identified and considered before being thoroughly assessed against competition prior to a recommended technology being trialled by industry and implemented accordingly.

An exciting project within this program is to scope and assess existing real time quota trading applications (such as Fish Serve in New Zealand) and potential new providers to identify the best service provider to create a quota trading application for the WRL industry. A real time quota trading platform will assist commercial decision making in the industry and ease current stress associated with annual leasing, transfers and end of season quota balancing.

Other equally exciting projects include working with AMSA to create new digitised Occupational Health and Safety standards and automatic on-line reporting that will make it easier for operators and the industry safer. Lobster traceability from catch to plate will assist with the Local Lobster Program and reduce black market lobster while preventing substitution of WRL in international markets and provide consumers with smartphone scanning ability to tell the industry story behind the lobster they are eating.

Understanding the Markets for Western Rock Lobster ($400,000)

With the China Free Trade Agreement (ChaFTA) resulting in a zero per cent tariff by January 2019, WRL is committed to collating independent market intelligence for our industry and members which will allow them to be better informed about the global markets and the impact on price of supply and demand. There is a clear understanding by WRL that it needs to have market intelligence and understanding if our industry is to remain economically sustainable, reduce its risk and improve overall income and profitability.

WRL has implemented a strategic approach to the future setting of the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) for the commercial western rock lobster fishery by providing professional evidence-based advice and leadership in managing the broader issues, risks and opportunities of the fishery to ensure a strong and sustainable industry. Following the Rogers TACC Review Report in 2016, WRL formed a TACC Committee to obtain and consider the due diligence necessary to underpin sound advice on future TACC settings for the western rock lobster commercial sector.

WRL will engage a market analyst to collect and analyse data such as where marketing effort by the industry would best be directed to expand markets and grow the industry’s GVP. This includes competition and opportunity such as broad market (high end / alternative) indicators within key markets, understanding consumer behaviour and understanding overall food market directions. The program will also identify current lobster decision drivers (price, culture, fashion, brand) for the general markets.

Data gathered under this program is primarily for the use of the TACC Committee and will feed into the annual TACC-setting process during winter each year in order for the Committee to provide evidence-based advice on future TACC settings for the western rock lobster commercial sector. An output of this program is an in-depth examination of the final demand for western rock lobsters and the identification of important market trends to help inform the TACC setting process and to help the broader industry predict and prepare for the future.

An exciting aspect of this program is that WRL will use the data gathered to create a comprehensive market dashboard. This market dashboard will provide members with market information including current trends in as close to real time as possible, providing them with information critical for their operations. Click here to view some examples of market reports and dashboards that could be created from data collected through this program.

The outcome of this is that the industry itself will have a far greater understanding of the markets for western rock lobster and the risks and opportunities associated with each market.

WRL will continue to keep you updated with how these exciting programs are progressing!

Posted in General, Industry News, WRL News