I attended Seafood Directions 2007 in Hobart Tasmania 31st Oct – 2nd Nov as a grass roots fisher with my husband, along with a reasonable contingent from SA I found it very hectic with a large social component being the welcome reception, a reception at Government House which was a real opportunity many of us would never have to see inside of such a stately building and its furnishings, and lastly the awards dinner held on the Thursday evening at Wrest Point Casino which we arrived at via a boat trip of about half an hour. Given I had a lot to do with the holding of the SA Seafood awards in August and one of our nominees in the Seafood Restaurant award was a finalist I was really looking forward to the night. It certainly delivered. The meal was a true indication of the wonderful seafood available and beautifully presented and cooked. The evening was topped off when the SA restaurant won its category. It was a great end to the conference and certainly much networking was still happening well into the early hours of the next day.
The conference itself contained a huge amount of information and to best utilise our time I often went to the other session from my husband. I found particularly interesting and useful co-management by Peter Rogers former CEO of Department of Fisheries WA giving an insight into the responsibilities of all parties and the possible benefits and pitfalls. I also felt that a talk contained in the People in Industry session by John Atkinson HR Manager MG Kailis P/L titled Fit for Life = Fit for Work detailing the MG Kailis drug and alcohol policy, its development, implementation and support very worthwhile. An inspirational speech within the Accreditation session from Tom Mirabella a net fisher from the Port Phillip Bay area that focused on the attainment of EMS and ended with the fact that within a week from the conference they would lose access to much of their current available fishing area was not only inspirational but was acknowledged with a “special award” at the awards dinner with a holiday package for a couple of nights to help with the obvious stress. Tim did acknowledge that the EMS whilst it had not saved them it had helped in having a restructure package put forward and a reasonable time frame, but at the end of the day they were ousted on the whims of a politician and in someone’s words “a philandering recreational well known in the media”.
A strong message from the conference was at the very beginning and came through a number of times started with the opening session featuring Mitch Tonks CEO Fishworks UK.
In a country that treats chefs and foodies like rock stars Mitch opened a specialist Fishmongers in 1995 and grew with the addition of a seafood café above the shop to a number of outlets, a cookery school, TV program and home delivery service. He was however espousing the message that they required good quality frozen product. My first reaction was to dislike the messenger because I didn’t like the message, after all he had started out with fresh fish as his base and succeeded very well. He had been in Australia for about 2 weeks and was very complimentary of our seafood. However the frozen message was again featured in the Changing Markets session with Paul Catalano of Catalano Seafood who now don’t feature any fresh seafood in their immensely popular retail shop, it is all frozen. They have developed a process for achieving good results and this was reinforced when they were the recipients of the National research and development award.
With the need to take in much information it is only later you are able to take more from a conference but I would like to see the FRDC breakfast for grass roots fishers open to participant fishers who are not subsidised by FRDC and choose to go.
The WINSC Board meeting on the Friday post the awards was a great opportunity to meet the faces that belong to the voices and it was heartening to have 2 observers one from SA and the other from WA. I think it would be valuable if incumbent board members were to attend the board meeting if at all possible even if only as observers.
A further worthwhile point was 2 members off attending the FRDC grass roots breakfast and the working group for the formation of a new national body highlighting the value of the networking associated with a group such as WINSC and its diverse membership range. Later in our board meeting in a further demonstration of the value of the network ABC radio countrywide program attended to interview board members and Mary Howard was able to speak to a different audience on the subject of WATER and its management.
The board meeting primarily became a strategic planning exercise with Tanya Adams expertly utilising the whiteboard and pulling threads from general discussion to provide a good strategic direction. I believe this value was highlighted via the talk from Jo Ruscoe of FRDC people development program and the link with a strong strategic direction and hopefully good recognition from departments from whom funding is sought. By the end of a productive day each state had a goal which I believe will help the group to remain focussed.