North Coast

New NSW extension officer for fisheries, aquaculture R&D

Fisheries Research and Development Corporation

Fishers and aquaculturists in New South Wales 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 Kris Cooling, who is based in Coffs Harbour, has been appointed to work with Indigenous, commercial and recreational fishers and aquaculturists as the NSW representative of FRDC’s new national extension officer network.

Kris has worked across a wide spectrum of roles in fisheries and aquaculture since completing First Class Honours in Marine Science and Management at Southern Cross University in 2011.

He has worked for the NSW Department of Primary Industries as a technician and researcher and as an observer on commercial fishing vessels, as a technician at a trout hatchery; as a research assistant for universities, and as floor manager for one of the largest fishing tackle stores in Australia.  

FRDC Managing director Dr Patrick Hone says the extension officers are helping 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 says.

“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,” he says.

“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.”

Kris grew up in Taree and is a keen fisher, diver and surfer. He has done volunteer work on cuttlefish behaviour studies, coral health, and aquatic conservation projects with Traditional Owners in the Northern Territory. 

He enjoys connecting fishers and other stakeholders to relevant research and is keen to utilise their insights and innovation in regional and national projects. 

“There’s an existing stable of research that would be hugely beneficial to people involved in fishing and aquaculture but they are busy and haven’t got the time to go searching through the scientific literature to find a solution that’s right for them,” he says.

“Meeting face to face with people is really valuable, even if it is just kicking tubs down at the local fishing co-op.”

“Everyone I’ve met so far has been really positive about the connections and opportunities this role could offer for them. There are so many fantastic opportunities in the fisheries and aquaculture and I’m very excited to be a part of it,” Kris says.

FRDC invests in research, development and extension activities to increase economic, social and environmental benefits for Australian fishing and aquaculture and the wider community.

Key facts:

  • People in NSW who are involved in fishing and aquaculture now have a new state-based contact for R&D.
  • Fisheries scientist Kris Cooling is working with people at the grassroots to gather their input on R&D priorities and boost the adoption of research outcomes.
  • Nathan is based in Coffs Harbour and grew up in Taree.