A Christmas message from the WAFIC CEO

Well let’s face it, 2020 has been a year to remember for all the wrong reasons – the COVID impacts were widespread and created a lot of anxiety and uncertainty across the industry.  Then, just as things were on the improve, we faced some international trading challenges which resulted in cut price lobster in the local supermarkets.

To say that we hope that 2021 brings some better times is an understatement – but please remember this industry has been through some tough times before – whether it’s through the imposts of government regulation or environmental factors or market challenges – we’ve always prevailed.  So it’s super important that we approach the coming year with that same fierce indomitable spirit that those before us have previously demonstrated to win through.

When you think about it, fishers are born with the spirit of survival – it’s in their DNA.  As a skipper, one knows that on a morning millpond the friendliest of afternoon weather forecasts can soon go horribly wrong, as the winds and seas of Mother Nature often appear to have a random mind of their own.  Dealing with adversity and unpredictability is therefore a core part of the game, and it’s those same innate skills which now have to be applied to challenges which may have impacts on our businesses.

On the other hand, it’s probably worth reflecting on some of the positives of 2020 – and there have been many.

Certainly from what a lot of other people have told me, they learned something about themselves during the course of this year.  They have re-evaluated or taken stock of their lives and realised the need for a better work-life balance, and importantly the need to invest more time with their families and friends.  So surely that’s a good thing.

So when we sit down to Christmas lunch this year (local seafood of course), I hope that you have a moment to appreciate all the good things we hold in our lives. Hopefully you can steer well clear of the mother-in-law’s kiss and reflect on the difference we can personally make to our families, our businesses and our industry as a whole – by doing more good things for others for all the right reasons.  We talk a lot about the need for our industry to have a social licence but this genuinely originates from our behaviours in the home and from the heart.  The rest soon falls into place when we get the first part right.

And during the coming weeks, it’s possibly also a good time for each of us to reach out to others in our industry and coastal communities and ask them RU OK?  It’s extra important that we give some thought to other people whose spirits might need a little lift – the Christmas period can be an emotional and challenging time for many and it brings all sorts of pressures to the surface.  So it’s important that we go out of the way to reach out and make that phone call or do a random drop-by to check on somebody who may possibly need a pick up.

Also please remember something very important – and that is to protect ourselves, our family and our community against the coronavirus pandemic.  The people most at risk from a quick second wave spread are most definitely us – those of us in WA who have had a pretty cruisy run while the other states were in lockdown and other countries have been devastated – and will continue to be.

This virus is still growing exponentially around the globe and the new vaccines aren’t necessarily the full solution.  So the biggest risk we have is complacency, thinking she’ll be right mate, it’ll never happen here.  Instead we must remain vigilant, we’ve got to maintain best practices, we need to socially distance when we can and register when we go to bars or restaurants.  And we need to have hand sanitiser within reach all day every day. A bottle in the car, in each room, at the work desk, on the boat.  It’s incredibly important to always maintain some discipline and focus.

So my 2020 Christmas message is all about demonstrating care for those around us and properly looking after ourselves. We should be truly thankful for the lives we are following. Fishing is a noble profession based on a renewable resource and provides a great deal to our community.

Regardless of uncertainties, the important thing to remember is that our industry will still have some great times ahead. Yes, we’ve waded through some hard challenges this year, but the industry has faced bigger challenges in the past and has soon rediscovered success.  Therefore the key is to stay positive and agile so as to identify and seize the inevitable opportunities when they come along.

So please stay positive, focus upon and fully appreciate the many blessings we have in life, reach out and give some thought towards the welfare of all the people in our broader circle and reach out to check that they’re all doing OK – because this is what truly matters and are the actions which will ultimately define us.

I send you my sincerest best wishes for the festive season and look forward to working closely with you to secure some positive outcomes for next year.