CEO Message to industry – April 2020

Well, April has been a rollercoaster ride at WAFIC and across the seafood industry with a frenzy of back-to-back meetings and a seemingly endless number of phone calls and video conferences, but as a team we are hitting some big runs for the survival of our industry.

You will certainly have noted that the WA Government has approved the seafood industry’s financial assistance package, along with a range of additional measures. You can read more about this in the April newsletter.

We’re also seeing air freight opportunities returning slowly and further early signs of export growth which leverages well for a gradual return to more normal business conditions. That in itself begs the questions, ‘what’s the new normal’ and ‘what positive influence can we have on that design?’

Despite the challenges COVID-19 is presenting, I’m finding a lot of encouragement in seeing industry come together in unity. Like any family, or organisation, there will always be differences of opinion within the membership, but the overall trend is one of goodwill and working together towards a common goal. It’s something we all want and often talk about, but sometimes struggle to achieve.  I’m hopeful this journey through COVID-19 can lay foundations for a consolidated future and affirm that as an industry we have greater strength as a whole, compared to working in isolation, as compartmentalised sectors.

I would also like to acknowledge the valued support the industry is receiving from our Minister, Cabinet and WA Government with the financial assistance package.  It’s a complex and difficult job to manage the delivery of the elements within the package, much of which is falling on our colleagues at the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD). As such, I would like to recognise the work being done by DPIRD in facilitating the processes, working collaboratively with WAFIC and helping lay the foundations for future relief assessments and industry recovery.

The Department of Transport is also stepping up with Minister Saffioti ‘waving the pen’ to waive pen and mooring fees and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is playing its role by deferring its audit and certification processes which will help cashflows for our MSC-certified fisheries.

There’s still a long way to go, but we have an opportunity to survive and stabilise, adapt and re-position and ultimately recover, which has always been the long-term plan.

Thanks to those members who have really stepped up in a highly active and engaged way and also to those who are sending through messages of thanks and encouragement to WAFIC staff. Recognition is not what we work for, but it’s always good to have feedback from members as it builds confidence to be proactive and helps guide future activities.

The team at WAFIC will continue pushing ahead in the adaptation phase next month. I’m hopeful we will see some more COVID-19 restrictions eased a little in coming weeks and am really looking forward to a time when we are able to gather as an industry, celebrate our way forward and raise a glass over an awesome meal of WA seafood, once more.

Best of care to all,

Alex Ogg

Chief Executive Officer