CEO Debrief: November

This month has been eventful as we moved on from the Annual General Meeting (AGM) and I began the first leg of the listening tour on the south coast. I thank all of you who made it to the Director/CEO sundowner, stopping by for a healthy discussion- including the good, bad and the ugly. Also thanks to those members who requested one on one meetings – another rich opportunity for me to learn. The more we as a team meet members and licence holders, the easier it will be to observe the overlap and intersection of industry issues that occur across different fisheries and regions. This gathering of information will provide critical insight and guidance to WAFIC moving forward, aligning more closely with industry concerns.

The outcome of the meetings in Albany showcased that there is a need for these fisheries to determine their future objectives and design processes to achieve a higher degree of certainty. I thought it was also important to mention other topics of discussion at the South Coast meetings:

  • The strong desire for independence:
    • Financial, to supplement current funding;
    • Chairs of govt. workshops, working groups and committees; and
    • Science – to supplement DPIRDs lack of prioritisation for small fisheries
  • Request for a RD&E subcommittee
  • Request for legal and policy expertise in house (ex-fisheries manager?)
  • Further exploration of Statutory Management Authority
  • Need for IFM processes leading to resource sharing outcomes
  • Public perception starts with the fishermen
  • Need to educate younger generations on seafood and fishing industry
  • Need to influence govt of the day in the commercial vs recreational/conservation conversation

The next leg of the listening tour will commence early next year, and we will eventually travel around to many jurisdictions of Western Australia to speak to fishers face to face. I look forward to meeting you all and inviting discussion on the future of our seafood industry in person.  I don’t have to be on my bike for these conversations to occur- and am available for bespoke meetings with members whenever the need arises.

On Monday and Tuesday this week, WAFIC and Recfishwest staff jointly participated in a cultural convergence program with a classroom-based day followed by an experiential day on the water with local indigenous elders.  The aim of the experience was to build upon knowledge, experience and empathy across the developing indigenous fishing sector, as well as strengthening relationships and fostering forward looking conversation across commercial and recreational representational sectors. It was an incredibly, eye-opening and awe-inspiring experience that will help respective staff incorporate facts and key messaging into every-day communications. Additionally, what a precedent in co-hosting the event with Recfishwest – it really does go to show how far in front Western Australia fisheries are.  While some with the sectors believe us to be natural enemies, there is great strategic strength in being able to work together across difficult boundaries.

Finally, I thought it was important to recap the 52nd AGM. There was a strong consensus from our members for WAFIC to change its name to Seafood Western Australia (SeafoodWA). This is a crucial outcome as it will move WAFIC away from a ‘commercial fishing only’ peak body, to an organisation that can represent the seafood supply chain, in line with our constitution. Times have changed – which mean priorities for our members have also changed. Our peak body needs to adapt to today’s connected world, and we look forward to this transition. Please note that when we talk about a ‘name change’ it is in reference to the trading name only, WAFIC will remain as the parent entity as the peak body.

This year we changed the structure of the AGM to incorporate staff updates. This gave members the opportunity to hear directly from the CEO and staff from Resource Access, Communications, Oil and Gas, MSC and ICU. We decided to incorporate this, making WAFIC clearer and more transparent about the work/ projects being done, in contrast to previous AGM’s. As we move forward, a priority is for the Board and staff to communicate more openly to ensure members are with us on the journey towards a more unified and cohesive industry.

Lastly with Christmas and New Years around the corner we will be encouraging the community to plan those seafood Christmas parties and lunches. There will be an array of quality, local fish and prawns available just in time for the silly season. Make sure you look out for our festive media releases over the next week or so.

As a reminder WAFIC offices will be closed between Christmas and New Year.  Our staff and Directors wish you all a very safe and rewarding holiday season.

Yours sincerely,

Alex Ogg