SA fishers and aquaculturists can now access a state-based officer appointed by Fisheries Research and Development Corporation to strengthen the exchange of information with end users and increase the uptake of research and development (R&D).
Fisheries scientist Nathan Bicknell has been appointed to work with Indigenous, commercial and recreational fishers and aquaculturists as the SA representative of FRDC's new national extension officer network.
Mr Bicknell grew up in a rock lobster fishing family in Port Lincoln and is now based in Port Elliott.
He studied environmental science, majoring in fisheries management, and has worked for Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Ocean Watch Australia, and was the Marine Fishers Association executive officer for seven years.
Mr Bicknell said he was keen to ensure that Indigenous, commercial and recreational fishers, and people working in aquaculture, had a chance to be involved in all phases of R&D.
"Traditionally, there has been a linear approach to extension, so after research was done, it was given to the industry to adopt," he said.
"But I prefer a circular approach where you bring the stakeholders together at the start and involve them in all steps of the process for research, development and extension.
"Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing fishing and aquaculture but it also creates opportunities through new ventures in the Blue Economy.
"Examples are aquaculture companies that are growing seaweed as livestock feed to reduce methane emissions or to sequester carbon from the atmosphere.
"These opportunities require an integrated approach to R&D within and across sectors and industries, rather than a business-by-business approach."
Mr Bicknell said he has a passion for innovative solutions to complex problems such as improving the social licence to operate commercial fishing and aquaculture.
As Marine Fishers Association executive officer, he ran an integrated public relations campaign to promote seasonal consumption of seafood.
In his role on the Wildcatch Fisheries SA's Advisory Committee, Mr Bicknell was a co-developer and founding director of the award-winning Fair Fish (SA) cooperative. Australia's first Community Supported Fishery.
Most recently, Mr Bicknell was part of an industry consultant team which developed the SA Australian Marine Scalefish Master Fisherman training module for Ocean Watch Australia, which recognises the efforts of commercial fishers towards environmental sustainability.
FRDC managing director Patrick Hone said the extension officer role was developed to increase FRDC's engagement with people at the grassroots.
"We have established the network in response to feedback from our stakeholders, who said they wanted more regionally based staff to help accelerate the adoption of R&D outcomes and drive practice change," he said.
"The broad remit of the extension officers 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.
"They are looking 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."
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