Seafood Directions, the national forum on seafood, was held this year in Perth, WA.
Seafood Directions brings together every year a wide range of stakeholders in the Australian fishing and seafood industry as presenters and exhibitors. The theme this year was "Selling our story". The event examined where we have been, where we are and most importantly where we need to be through a range of topics and themes.
As most people are aware, the Australian Seafood Industry is underpinned by world-class science and research. Whilst this was obvious at the conference, it was refreshing to see that communication strategies are evolving. With the release of the information kit for the Australian Fisheries Communication Strategy, it’s evident that seafood producers need to connect on a personal level with communities & consumers. Demonstrating shared values is key. No-one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.
Seafood Directions is hosted in a different state every two years and it’s always good to catch up with people and talk face to face, even if that is informally. This year saw more of an environmental theme permeating the social and economic challenges of the industry. The use of third party certifications such as MSC was a common topic. Presentations from the heart, such as Tracy Hill speaking about the trials and tribulations of running Coorong Wild Seafood, are always great to hear. It instills a pride in the Aussie spirit to triumph, with people working towards common goals and industry telling its story.
One of many highlights was a presenter from the US, Joshua Stoll. Joshua introduced the concept of ‘Community Supported Fisheries’; a novel model in which a local community essentially subscribes to their local fishermen, who duly deliver a range of fresh products off the back of the boat. The model builds relationships, trust and support for the industry, whilst introducing the community to under utilised species and the concept of seasonality. See www.walking-fish.org for more info.
Western Australian Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC) Chair Arno Verboon celebrated the end of the Seafood Directions 2015 conference in Perth in the same way he opened the national forum two days earlier - by encouraging the commercial fishing and seafood industry to work together to sell its story.
Mr Verboon said it was crucial that the various commercial fisheries around the nation worked more effectively to publicly promote their environmental stewardship of Australia's fish stocks.
"Professional fishers already work to sustainably manage fish stocks, their livelihoods rely on this," Mr Verboon said. "But what we all need to do better is communicate this to the seafood-loving public. Find out more (pdf download)...
During Seafood Directions 2015, OceanWatch and Sydney Fish Market hosted an evening event to discuss the formation of a Seafood Leadership Community. The initiative hopes to connect past participants from leadership programs and to promote measured discussion and cooperation. The idea was very well received by those in attendance. If you weren’t able to join us at the event in Perth, however are keen to get involved, please get in touch with Andy Myers via Andy@oceanwatch.org.au
Senator the Hon Anne Ruston, Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources opened the 2015 Seafood Directions conference reminding us that fishing was one of the first human activities - feeding the first peoples and those that came later. She reminded the industry that not everyone in our community was supportive and that she hoped to help change that at Seafood Directions 2015. She believed industry had a fantastic story to tell in its contribution to our society, with over $2 billion in premium product, as well as the best managed and operated seafood industry in the world. She acknowledged that "Selling our story" - the main theme of the conference, was complex. Recent research undertaken by her department towards an industry communication strategy might be of value, with the aim of creating the best possible environment for industry to operate in. This research indicated that there was not much knowledge or understanding of the seafood industry by the community, but that there was a desire to support industry, so she believes that educating the public is vital.
Senator Ruston emphasised that the Commonwealth government wants to help industry seize the opportunities. Some key assistance has been provided to assist develop a national peak industry body, as well as through the Innovation Fund - now in its 2nd round and open for applications. She also identified reducing red tape and identifying and avoiding duplication as being key actions. Senator Ruston acknowledged that strong policy was not enough. The harsh reality the seafood industry needed to accept is that popular opinion is at the heart of future success. Social license to operate is vital, and seafood needs to speak with one voice. She recognised that for a profitable, sustainable and socially responsible seafood industry, the government needs to be more transparent in compliance activity and make sure science is accessible to those who wish to know more. Image: Anneruston.com.au
Research, Development & Extension Award: Northern Prawn Fishery & Export Group
Environment Award: Darwin Harbour Clean Up Partners
People Development Award: Janet Howieson & Patrick O’Brien
Promotion Award: Love Australian Prawns
Restaurant Award: Incontro
Take-away Fish & Chip Award: Morgans Fish Market & Take Away
Young Achiever Award: Claire Webber
Industry Ambassador Award: Bill Passey
Inductees to the Hall of Fame: Terry Adams; John Cole AM; Peter Dundas-Smith
Image: Lyn Lambeth receives Environment Award for Darwin Harbour Clean Up Partners.
Long time OceanWatch Director Peter Dundas-Smith was honoured at the recent Seafood Directions Conference awards night with induction into the National Seafood Industry Hall of Fame. Peter has had a long and distinctive career in the seafood industry, initially as Executive Director of FRDC, and more recently as Chair of the Australian Seafood Co-operative Research Centre. Peter has given his time and expertise to OceanWatch for the past 8 years, with major contributions in the areas of corporate governance and planning the strategic direction of the organisation.
Congratulations to Peter for his well deserved recognition.
Morgan Fishmarket and Takeaway North Mackay takes out Best Fish and Chips Award at Seafood Directions
Well done team at Morgans, it'll be worth a trip to QLD just to taste those famous fish and chips!
OceanWatch would like to welcome aboard Veronica Papacosta as a new director. Veronica recently graduated from the 2015 National Seafood Industry Leadership Program, supported by FRDC and Sydney Fish Market. Veronica is a third generation seafood retailer and director/CFO of Sydney Fresh Seafood, managing stores in Wetherill Park, Manly, Potts Point, Drummoyne and Bowral. She has a Bachelor of Economics from Sydney University, but most importantly, has a love for the seafood industry and a desire to see it flourish.
The 31st meeting of the National Committee for Acid Sulphate Soils (NatCASS) was held in Perth recently. NatCASS is one of the mechanisms by which the Australian, state and territory governments, research institutions and industry are working together to address acid sulfate soil issues. NatCASS meets twice a year to share information and to work on implementing the National Strategy for the Management of Acid Sulfate Soils. Acid sulfate soil (ASS) is the common name for soils that contain metal sulfides. In an undisturbed and waterlogged state, these soils may pose no or low risk. However, when disturbed or exposed to oxygen, ASS undergo a chemical reaction known as oxidation.
OceanWatch is particularly concerned about ASS due to its affect on aquatic ecosystems by changes to water and soil quality. This can lead to negative effects on the species and ecological communities that depend on this ecosystem. Irrigation water may be acidic and/or have high concentrations of metals, which may affect stock drinking water, infrastructure and machinery, and crop growth and yield. In turn, this poor water quality can have a devastating effect on commercial fisheries downstream, causing fish kills or disease, and affect human consumption of aquatic foods. In addition, the recreational or aesthetic values of a location can become compromised and may not be able to be used or enjoyed to the same extent for recreational purposes due to factors including acidic water, odours, loss of aesthetic appeal, loss of fishing amenity and acid-tolerant mosquitoes increasing in number.
The NatCASS members participated in a field trip to the Peel region to the South of Perth. Sites in South Yunderup and around the Murray River delta, were visited to better understand the drainage management issues and to view soils which are oxidising due to urban development and historical drainage. The fieldtrip also visited the RAMSAR listed Lake Mealup, to get an update on the Recovery Program for this internationally important freshwater wetland, which – due to declining rainfall and widespread drainage in the area – periodically dries out exposing sulfidic sediments in the wetland to oxygen. The success of the program, through the building of a weir, which allows the water levels in the lake to be controlled, has seen the return of 43 species of birds and the pH of the water to remain at near neutral levels.