Jim Mendolia Sweeps Prestigious WA Seafood Industry Leadership Award

Congratulations to fisher – Jim Mendolia for taking home the prestigious MG Kailis Award.

The leadership, innovation and dedication of Jim Mendolia to WA’s seafood industry was last night recognised when he won the prestigious Michael Kailis Leadership Award, sponsored by MG Kailis at the 2019 Western Australian Seafood Industry Awards.

The Awards event, recognising excellence in the WA seafood industry, was held at the Esplanade Hotel in Fremantle and opened by the Minister for Fisheries, the Hon. Dave Kelly MLA, in front of an audience of 350 industry participants and representatives of various stakeholder groups.

WA Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC) Chair, Dr Ron Edwards said Mr Mendolia has demonstrated immense leadership, commitment and a continuation of ongoing positive difference to the seafood industry over many years.

“A second-generation Sicilian fisherman who sets off from Fremantle at 2am every day to catch sardines, Mr Mendolia is renowned for being the ‘sardine man’ and a familiar, friendly face to many across the local community. Not only is he a fisher, but a businessman, processor, innovator, promotor of underutilised seafood species and educator of the industry. He also strives to continually build relationships with food industry representatives including chefs,” he said.

Mendolia’s family migrated from Sicily in the 1950’s to capitalise on the booming Fremantle rock lobster trade. Little did they know that they’d be laying the foundations for driving the rise of a far more underrated seafood species – the humble sardine. The family successfully brought these delicious fish to Australia’s attention and Mendolia Seafoods, now in its 30th year of business, continues to thrive with innovations and company expansion.  The company aims to also showcase the virtues of other underrated and highly sustainable fish, including Australian salmon and long tail tuna.

In addition, Mr Mendolia was responsible for establishing the Fremantle Sardine Festival in 1990 as a way of educating consumers on the protein-packed, Omega-3-laden super-fish. The Festival ran for 11 years and attracted more than 80,000 people each year.

Mr Mendolia has also endured some significant times of hardship through his fishing career.  Twenty years ago, his family ran a canning business for sardines, but a virus caused by imported fish forced it to close.  But this act did not define Mr Mendolia’s future operations – he simply dusted himself off and started again.

“There is no doubting the name Jim Mendolia is synonymous with Fremantle sardines.  His quirky character is most famous for his ability to turn the ‘lesser know species’ into a popular delicacy now found in restaurants and the food sector across Australia.  Mr Mendolia’s passion, leadership, enthusiasm and dedication has seen him effect position change across the Australian seafood and food industries”, said Dr Ron Edwards.

“Mr Mendolia has been a participant in the fishing industry for well over 40 years and has come to be recognised as one of the most respected industry leaders.”

“As an industry body, we recognise the importance of acknowledging those individuals and organisations who make a substantial contribution to benefiting our industry, and Mr Medolia is certainly incredibly worthy of this Award,” Dr Edwards concluded.

For further information regarding the awards, please contact:

Danika Gusmeroli

Communications Officer

WAFIC office: (08) 9432 7777

Mobile: 0434 963 179

Email: communications@wafic.org.au


Dr Ron Edwards

WAFIC Chairman

WAFIC office: (08) 9432 7777

Mobile: 0408 925 805

Email: redwards@iinet.net.au

Jim Mendolia

Mendolia Seafoods

Mobile:  915 741

Email: jmendolia@mendoliaseafoods.com.au

About the Michael Kailis Leadership Award

Presented to a person who has demonstrated that he or she has made a substantial positive difference to the seafood industry over at least twenty years, and who has been a highly effective and respected seafood industry leader.

Judging criteria:

The person

  • has made a substantial and sustained positive difference to the seafood industry
  • has effected positive change through leadership and innovation
  • is highly respected by industry colleagues

Previous Michael Kailis Leadership Award winners:

2002 Ken Palmer, former Managing Director of MG Kailis
2004 Theo Kailis (dec)
2006 Peter Jecks, Abacus Fisheries
2010 Eric Barker, former Fisheries WA Researcher
2011 David Carter, CEO Austral Fisheries
2013 John Cole AM, Commercial fisherman – Dongara
2015 Greg Jenkins, Challenger Institute of Technology
2017 Leonie Noble, WAFIC Board, Rock Lobster Industry Advisory Committee (RLIAC) and the Abrolhos Islands Management Advisory Committee (AIMAC)

About the Awards Event

  • The event is supported by a number of sponsors including; National Australia Bank (Gold event sponsor), Fisheries Research & Development Corporation (Silver event sponsor) and Western Rock Lobster Council (Silver event sponsor) as well as sponsors for each of the individual awards, including Austral Fisheries, Bailey’s Marine Fuels, Baker Refrigeration, Bendotti Exporters, Geraldton Fisherman’s Cooperative, ConocoPhillips Australia, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development WA, Endeavour Foods, Francis A Jones, INPEX, Mareterram, MG Kailis Group, Santos and Woodside.
  • Award event attendees enjoyed an array of fresh, local and sustainably caught Western Australian seafood prepared by celebrity chefs and kindly donated by sponsors including; Austral Fisheries, BellBuoy Seafoods, Bendotti Exporters, Blom Fishing, Brown Dog Fishing Co, Cone Bay Barramundi, Endeavour Foods, Fins Seafood, Larner’s Oysters, Leeman Fish & Chips, Mendolia Seafoods, MG Kailis Group, Ocean Grown Abalone, Ocean Wild Tuna, Paspaley Pearling Company, Running Wild Fishing Co, Shark Bay Cockles, Shark Bay Seafoods, West Australian Octopus all served in compostable packaging provided by Ward Packaging.
  • Highly regarded “celebrity”’ seafood chefs cooked at the event including; Gurpreet Bagga (Sauma Northbridge), Naomi Bulner (Steve’s Fine Food), Neil Forbes (Black Pearl Oyster Shucking), Don Hancey (WA Food Ambassador & WAFIC Seafood Ambassador), Gord Kahle (Cook & Mason), Stuart Laws (Showcase Events WA), Kenny McHardy (Manuka Woodfire Kitchen), Brendan Pang (2018 Masterchef Contestant), Melissa Palinkas (Young George), Alejandro Saravia (Uma), and Nic Wood (Santini Bar & Grill).
  • The event was held on Thursday 25 July 2019 at Fremantle’s Esplanade Hotel.