CEO message to industry – May 2020

After the frenzy of activity throughout March and April it’s been nice to have a few minutes to gather thoughts and look forward to assisting our industry towards a gradual recovery.

While there is still a tough road ahead for many of our businesses, we are seeing regular, positive signs with more on the horizon.

The relaxing of intrastate borders has been a welcome relief, not just for those members who need to travel across the State, but for the regional businesses that rely on visitor traffic, tourism in the regions and intrastate transport.

The re-opening of restaurants, bistros and cafes has also been well met, not just by businesses, but also customers. It is refreshing the whole mood of the community as we see people out mixing, smiling and socialising over a plate of grilled occi or a WA seafood platter.

These are all good signs but there’s still challenges ahead, particularly with the northern biosecurity zone, hard State borders and international freight.

Thanks to those members who took a few minutes to fill in our recent survey. We received some great feedback and it is really interesting to see where industry is recovering and where there’s still work to do.

Please keep sending your comments through this very short survey link so we can stay on the front foot with what’s required next to assist.

It was no surprise to see that freight costs and market access are still major issues, along with managing cash flows.

The IFAM freight initiative is assisting some of the high-yield, high-priority products but there’s many other products falling through the cracks with unaffordable freight charges and limited freight capacity. We are engaged in ongoing discussions with government to explore ways to overcome these barriers, but it will take some time.

In line with the industry’s COVID-19 recovery plans and financial assistance program, our focus will remain on seeking ongoing financial support and reviewing impacts, while also shifting into stage two, which is about re-establishing market access and de-risking market opportunities, including export.

WAFIC is actively engaged with our trade partners at DPIRD and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA to explore opportunities for diversifying our markets and enhancing the broader range of products that are available to both existing and new markets.

Work to assess events and digital trade-matching opportunities is still in the early stages but it’s taking shape and we’ll update you as there is more to tell.

On a personal level, I’m really enjoying seeing our industry working through this together. There is a sense of unity across the commercial fishing industry sectors that we haven’t seen in a number of years and this is one of the elements underpinning the support of government for seafood producers.

A unified industry is a powerful industry that speaks with a single voice, so the government can understand our needs and support them. And we are seeing that support throughout this crisis.

Let’s keep talking and updating each other as we grow through the current challenges.

As I keep saying, early feedback is essential for quick remedies, so please keep us in touch through the survey, emails or feel free to give any of the WAFIC team a call to keep us informed.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Warm regards,

Alex Ogg

Chief Executive Officer