Seafood Directions Reports to May Board Meeting May 2010

3 Jun

Director Report, Empowering Industry RD&E Workshop (pre conference workshop)

Fiona Ewing attended a pre conference workshop; “Empowering Industry RD&E Workshop – “Strengthening Membership Communication & Support in Peak Industry Bodies of the Australian Fishing and Seafood Industry” run by Ian Knuckey and Chris Calogeras.

Attendees were:

Brad Warren                    OceanWatch Australia Ltd

Chris Calogeras                C-AID Consultants

Christopher Collins           Victorian recreational fishers representative organisation (VRFISH)

Fiona Ewing                      Women’s Industry Network Seafood Community (WINSC)

Ian Knuckey                      Fishwell Consulting

Kate Brooks                      C/Fisheries Research Development Corporation (FRDC)

Katherine Sarneckis         Northern Territory Seafood Council (NTSC)

Matt Koopman                 Australian Underwater Federation (AUF) and RECFISH Australia

Michael Edwards             VRFish (RD&E Committee)

Neil MacDonald               NMAC

Peter Horvat                     FRDC

Phil Kerr                           Victorian Indigenous Seafood Committee (VISC)

Renee Vajtauer                Seafood Industry Victoria (SIV)

Ross McGowan                 SIV

Sally Branson                    Media Affairs

Sarah Reinhart                 Tasmanian Seafood Industry Council (TSIC).


Workshop participants provided overviews of their current communication methods, issues they faced, requirements and any examples of successful communication programs.  The following issues were raised (in no particular order);

  • Industry members often don’t see the work peak groups do behind the scenes – peak groups are often questioned – ‘what do you do for me’
  • There needs to be a means to ‘value’ the work done on industry’s behalf by peak groups (e.g. cost recovery, MPA, access rights, research development, policy direction)  – need to be able to relate it back to an individual business basis and/or as a return on their investment.
  • Concerns that some groups will abandon peak bodies and form narrow focussed organisations – this can be a bigger problem when there is a big figurehead who is seen to be ‘fighting’ for industry.  However it is unclear if they are doing the best for members?
  • There is a need to establish linkages at all level of the industry from peak bodies to individual associations
  • There were identified benefit in the sectors developing strong communication links (across sectors and jurisdictions) with a view to developing strong collaboration on key issues and working as ‘one industry’
  • There is a general lack of resources and capacity to undertake effective communication or marketing
  • Communication needs to be adapted and modified to meet the target group (simple pamphlets, web, email, letter, face to face etc) with clear messages
  • There is a lack of ability to access R&D data
  • There is a decreasing level of trust within industry, as a whole, and this has lead to poorer relationships which need rebuilding
  • Many industry people are unaware where organisation, agencies and people fit into the overall scheme
  • Although considered costly, the SeaNet approach of one-to-one interaction provides the longest terms benefits and relationships
  • Most fishing and seafood industry people just want to fish and don’t care a great deal about what is happening in the broader industry – only when it directly negatively impacts on them
  • ‘Communication’ is often considered a task and undertaken to tick off boxes
  • There is a lack of incentive to become involved at an individual level, because if you show interest as an industry member you get pulled into more and more discussions and this can stop you fishing
  • Communication can be enhanced if there is relationship building, partnerships built and capacity and skills are developed
  • There is a need to make organisations relevant to their members
  • Organisations need to recruit people who have the drive and commitment to deliver
  • There is not a comprehensive easily accessible database of clients such as fishers, licencees, organisations and agencies
  • There is often a disjunct between the people sending the message and those receiving it – need a process to render down information to meet clients needs – conversion of messages
  • New communication methods/tools are well used in some levels of the fishing and seafood industry
  • Increased knowledge, at a manager and researcher level, is needed to ensure a clear message is developed in a form suitable for industry
  • There is a diverse range of industries, players and message throughout the industry
  • Peak bodies needs to understand how Industry clients digest the messages being given to them
  • Messages need to be delivered at different levels (e.g. complicated – full reports, or simple – concise executive summaries) and probably in different forms depending on the circumstances (e.g. face to face with skippers).  Need to repackage the same message in differing ways
  • Communication is not about just sending out a message – it involves the receiver understanding what is being said and acting accordingly
  • Similar messages are being developed throughout the fishing and seafood industry, are delivered in a haphazard and uncoordinated way – there is a need to get above organisational/sectoral competition for the benefit of industry as a whole – develop synergies
  • It is unclear what existing communication resources are already available, what is needed, what are the gaps and what stage of the ‘consumer cycle’ each group is at in the industry
  • There is a need for a communication resource hub
  • There is a needs to explore other options and drivers to improve communication – understand that ‘VALUE’ may be financial or social – use social sciences, communication expertise, marketers etc
  • Using ‘recognised experts; to deliver the message can lead to a greater level of recognition and prestige
  • Associations can’t engage if they don’t understand their members, what they need and how they want information delivered – and how to obtain and receive feedback.


Workshop participants distilled the above issues to a number of key points.  These were;

  • A general lack of support and funding for associations
  • A disjunct between groups sending the message and those receiving

–        different priorities at top and bottom

–        one thing being said another being heard

  • There are issues with trust and relationships in uncertain environment
  • There are many competing messages directed at different levels of the industry (rumour control)
  • There is a need to identify the key messages
  • It is not clear within the fishing and seafood Industry, who’s who and why?

–        what do the different levels of organisations do?

–        what representation do or don’t they have had

  • What value is being offered to members

–        Lack of clarity as to what ‘product’ is being offered

  • How are organisations relevant to members
  • The issues are common across all sectors and jurisdictions and a cooperative approach would be beneficial
  • Communication is challenging in this ‘communication age’.

After workshopping these matters it was believed that these matters would be best addressed by developing a “tackle box” of communication methods that can be used across industry (all sectors, all levels, all jurisdictions).

This project will seek to provide a resource that is available across sectors and jurisdictions; it is not about individual issues.

It was felt that this could be addressed by developing a project (or projects) that;

  • Audited the current status of communication in the industry
  • Clarified key selling propositions for associations
  • Improved communication at a range of levels
  • Clarified the audience/customer
  • Optimised the communication delivery model.

These matters are expanded on in the following sections.

As part of

Communication Audit

A critical first step in improving communication involves undertaking audits across industry to gain an understanding of what tools have already been used and what the status of communication in the industry is.  This would include identifying;

  • What communication work has already been done in the fishing and seafood industry – success and failures (with a focus on developing trust / building partnerships / improving engagement / working in uncertainty)
  • What other (similar) industry bodies have done it well and how have they done it
  • Where current communication resources held, are they accessible and how
  • What is the status of the industry’s current communication resources, what levels of overlap are there and what are the gaps, what expertise is there.

Clarify Key Selling Proposition

Each of the peak associations needs to clearly identify their roles and responsibilities and develop an understanding of what their key ‘selling proposition’ is to members.  This will be achieved by;

  • Assisting each association to clarify their key selling proposition (what they do) and what the associated responsibilities are
  • Developing a matrix of roles and responsibilities across the industry
  • Identifying areas of expertise
  • Identifying duplication in roles across associations.

Clarify the Audience/Customers

The workshop identified that industry members may be receiving multiple (and at times conflicting) messages from the industry.  It also found that in instances associations were not clear on who their members were, as such it was proposed to;

  • Clarify each associations customers/audience (generic) and their needs
  • Identify where membership is shared
  • Identify opportunities to minimise duplication and maximise information exchange opportunities.

Improve Communication

Although some associations have high level communication skills and links with members, in general it was felt that most associations performed poorly in this field and required assistance in improving communication.  The lack of successful communication had lead in many instances to decreasing membership support.  Communication was to be improved by;

  • Identifying what methods are needed to push members buttons to get them to buy messages
  • Developing a ‘tackle box’ of generic communication techniques that each association can tap into
  • Providing means to assist each association to improve their two-way communication and membership support

Optimise Communication Delivery

Workshop participants were clear that optimising communication between and across the fishing and seafood industry was critical for the ongoing growth (and in some instances survival) of industry groups.

The current situation sees small, often volunteer driven associations attempting to provide effective communication across a wide range of issues.  This was not seen as a viable long term option and that the development of an alternate model was crucial.

It was felt that this could be best achieved by;

  • Developing structure and models that optimises communication delivery across, within and between associations, including options to ‘share’ resources
  • Developing a central repository of fishing and seafood industry communication material that can be readily accessed.

The workshop was a positive first experience for me as a new director representing WINSC. I need some practice, putting the WINSC ‘hat’ on. Ian and Chris will look to develop new project ideas out of this workshop process and as such, there may be opportunities for WINSC to be a part of those projects.

Fiona Ewing

Tasmanian WINSC Director


WINSC Director Report   Australian Seafood Directions 2010 (Mary Howard)

I travelled to Melbourne by car dropping Graham, off at a friend’s home two hours east of Melbourne.  My trip into Melbourne was a journey I prefer to not remember but it will remain with me for life.  I feel that the bananas that had been locked in my car for two days and one of those days it was quite warm, are the cause, but about 20 minutes outside of Melbourne in the mid afternoon on the freeway with lots of traffic I found myself falling asleep at the wheel.   This OH&S issue I will follow up. I received adequate sleep the night before and was fine before getting into my car that had an aroma of bananas.  I have been fine since.  I would be interested to know if the gas from the bananas ripening in my car could have been the cause.

Maria Manias, Fiona Ewing, Donna Wells and I eventually caught up with each other at the Ocean Watch booth.   They were more than welcoming and a big thank you to all involved.  We managed to organise a table to fit in snugly down the side of the booth and display our presence without taking over Ocean watch. A big thank you to Kylie for organising the brochures – we did a hunt for these and sure enough they were there.

Seafood Directions was held on the 14-16th April 2010 and congratulations should be extended to the organisers and hosts Seafood Industry Victoria – the venue (once I had toured Flinders Lane and drove around the block a couple of times to find my bearings) was well appointed for the conference and the trade displays were presented so that morning teas and lunch attendees were a captive audience.

The trade displays covered Ocean Watch, a variety of packaging options, electronic reporting software, Marine Stewardship Council display and the Fisheries Research and Development Council with the green fish display and of course us mingling amongst them all.  Maria and Donna were doing a fine job of recruiting new members. A special acknowledgement to Donna for the WINSC display.

Registration and welcome was held in the late afternoon on Tuesday. Wednesday morning was the start of two busy days, we learnt from Jason Plato, the general manager International marketing from the Sealord Group Pty Ltd, of the importance of growing the business and capitalising on a host of alternate opportunities. Katherine Sarnekis CEO of Northern Territory Seafood council and Rob Fish spoke to us on the need for adequate labelling especially in Restaurants and how we should all be asking “Where did this fish come from?”

Duncan Souter CEO MRAG Asia Pacific Pty Ltd expanded on the fish sustainability schemes against FAO guidelines. An inspiring talk from Professor George Kailis the University of Notre Dame Australia on the position and economic changes in Australian Fisheries in particular the crossover to Imports exceeding Australian fisheries harvest. Laurie Goldsworthy Australian maritime College covered an assessment of alternative fuels for fishing vessels – my take on this was that alternative fuels have a bit of a way to go and that diesel is up there as a mainstay. Dr Kate Brooks enlightened us at the end of the day with some social research outcomes.

The evening was spent in the in house restaurant in the company of Donna, Fiona and Julii’s partner Rob  who advised us that he was off to the Melbourne’s Wholesale fish markets in the morning early. Morning came so quickly; Well, off we set in the taxi, the blind leading the blind in the dark and we actually got out of the taxi at the retail markets – clearly it was not the right place – all closed up and no activity. So back into the cab and a few more directions from our host at the markets and we were there.

The Melbourne Wholesale fish markets are on the move, and frankly they need to be. What amazed me was the number of Sydney Blue fish boxes that were permanently in use at the markets.  Donna was in her element and a New Zealand outlet in the Markets ensured that she had seafood in hand as we returned for the day’s conference. A big thank you to our hosts this for me made the trip worthwhile.

What a delight it was to listen to Ralph Plarre from Fergusen Plarre Bakehouse explain how sustainable practices could grow your business – note readers, this is a bakehouse, cakes and pies;  presenting to fisher folk and he was exciting and a delight to listen to.

Clare Winkel NCS International looked across the sustainability within Australian Seafood Supply Chain and the many options that question the meaning of Sustainability and what does this really achieve.  We heard about Climate Change, and Jill Briggs; training bringing Fishing Industry communication together. Sustainable Cuisine brought Stephen Hodge a Chef from the Fish Face Restaurant to talk to us about how he sells and procures his fish and the difficulty of securing local fish.   Tom Kime brought along a presentation highlighting the subjects in his book linking the sustainability of the environment and the fish within those environments and the cook.  Sorry, but for me this was not sending the right messages and a good look at this book is required. I questioned Tom and was advised that I needed to brush up on the Marine Stewardship Councils Certification programme. I urge us all to be very vigilant that the certification of wild harvest product is not a certification that the environment that the product we are harvesting comes from is sustainable. It is in fact the methods that the fisher is using is deemed to be sustainable there is a big difference.  Wild harvest fisheries especially should not be seen as the difference between sustainable fisheries or non sustainable fisheries at the environment level – there are far more impacts that affect sustainability of fish resources outside of commercial fishing.

A panel discussion called ‘The Future of Seafood” wrapped up the conference agenda with a disappointing ‘all male’ panel.  There were many female representatives at the conference that could have contributed at the panel level. Once again the conclusion that the industry needs to collaborate better and champion their cause better, along with the concern for the increasing imports into Australia and the declining of wild harvest sector.

A quick change and we on a bus for the 5th Australian Seafood awards function that was held at the Docklands at Melbourne where once there was hundreds of commercial fishing vessels moored. This is no longer possible and I am sure the area is poorer as a result. I am sure a good night was had by all and the MC for the night ensured that this was the outcome.

Mary Howard    WINSC Director NSW



Be Sociable, Share!