CEO Message – Closing the year on a strong foundation

It’s getting close to the end of the year but there’s certainly no rest for the WAFIC wicked with our AGM coming up on Friday 25 November 2022 at the Esplanade Hotel, Fremantle with a 12.30pm start.

We invite WAFIC financial members to come along to hear presentation reports on operational performance for the past year, to vote on Constitutional amendments, and to elect Board members for the times ahead.  With regard to the Constitutional changes, these were agreed in-principle at last year’s AGM and have been incorporated into a new set of Rules of Association to be formally voted upon.

There are three Board positions for election – our Chair Murray Criddle, Deputy Chair Adam Radford and Board Director James Brown have all accepted nominations to continue.

We expect that before the AGM we will see the final outcomes for the reform of the West Coast Demersal Scalefish management arrangements.  This process has been going on for too long and we are optimistic that we will soon see government bringing in some overdue sustainability measures.

Throughout the process, the Minister has been subjected to unfounded criticisms from the recreational lobby and their nasty attacks on the professionalism of the DPIRD scientists represent an all-time low for the interests of the fishing fraternity as a whole.  Over the years our sectors have been poorly served by governments who have buried their heads in the sand when leadership was required and decisions needed to be taken.  WAFIC is thankful that we finally have a Minister willing to demonstrate the integrity and courage required to make the right decision for all the right reasons. And we say this in the full knowledge that our sector will be hardest hit by these reforms and the livelihoods of many fishing families will be critically impacted.

But the point is that there is simply no choice. If the Minister followed the pathway of the noisy recalcitrants then the fishery would never recover and everybody – recreational, charter, commercial, as well as the whole WA community – would suffer permanent harm. Mother Nature simply needs some space to fix the problem all by herself and the refreshing parliamentary commitments made by Minister Punch will see this opportunity finally being afforded.

WAFIC recently held a valuable meeting with the Chair of WA’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) where we appreciated the opportunity to discuss both the direct and cumulative impacts of coastal developments on our industry.  In particular we emphasised the need for improved approval processes which require genuine and good faith engagement with the commercial fishing industry from development proponents. The degree of technical understanding and concern shown by the Chair was very encouraging and we are confident that the EPA is making genuine attempts to ensure our industry receives the appropriate level of attention.

We have also initiated high-level meetings with State Government development agencies to make sure they appreciate the cumulative impacts on food security and the need for amendments to the approval processes to ensure we have our voices properly heard.

In closing, it’s important to note that WAFIC recognises the challenges the world faces from climate change and knows that our industry must play a leading role. Mind you, it needs to be recognised that we are already a renewable industry and if you look at the carbon impacts per unit of protein, we are many orders of magnitude healthier than any agricultural food alternative.

Due to the nature of our businesses there are limitations to what improvements we can make in regard to emissions reduction, but the WAFIC Board has committed to ensuring our industry firmly plays its part and does its very best to improve performance to positively contribute to Australia’s overall decarbonisation and environmental sustainability efforts.  The WAFIC Climate Change Policy can be viewed here.

Talk soon