National Seafood Industry Leadership Program 2016 participant Paul Jordan believes that commercial fishers, by nature, tend not to seek the limelight.
But the enthusiastic professional lobster fisher from King Island firmly believes it’s time to step up and talk about the current proposal for a national peak body for Australia’s seafood industry.
Known as Seafood Industry Australia (SIA), this peak body would have three core functions: to be a voice for the industry; to work as a marketing and communications hub; and to remove obstacles to industry growth.
“What would a national peak body mean to individuals in the industry?” Paul asked.
“I reckon that with so many issues facing the seafood industry, the great benefit initially would be having national level industry representation to all industry sectors – fishers, processors, buyers, retailers, marketers, scientists and managers and ultimately the consumer.
“When I first started hearing of SIA, it led to me thinking what would or could it do for me? Is it necessary? Is it possible?
“I mean, it's often hard enough to get the individuals of one sector, like the wild-catch sector, to get on and agree with each other.
“But then I thought a bit more and came to the conclusion that industry would have more weight in tackling big issues, like AMSA’s proposed cost recovery system, building social licence and community support and educating the public, if we had a single voice with a consistent message.
“Tackling agenda-driven lobby groups and countering the spread of misinformation and scaremongering to the average Joe Blow could be more effectively countered by a national peak body.
“As individuals or smaller sector groups, the seafood industry often lacks the resources and political clout to fight these issues.
“More often than not our industry issues are a result of the divide and conquer mentality of the agenda-driven groups I mentioned earlier.
“But I firmly believe that if we (the broader seafood supply chain) put aside our individual ‘us-and-them’ mentality and show more unity, we would be much better off.
“Most commercial fishers also fish recreationally; most recreational fishers have purchased seafood – either fish and chips, at supermarkets or fishmongers, when they treat themselves at a restaurant or when they need bait.
“From fishers, to scientists and researchers, processors, wholesalers, retailers, even fisheries managers: we all go hand in hand.
“We all want secure, sustainable jobs and secure and sustainable fisheries for our own futures and for the generations to come.
“We can’t afford to sit on our hands hoping we don't end up in some anti-industry group’s cross hairs. So let’s unite our voice with a national peak body. United voices are surely louder and heard further than one.”
For more information, please visit www.unitedseafoodindustries.com.au