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Member update January 2021

9 January 2021

Dear member

I write to wish you all the very best for the new year and particularly to give you some insight into the SSPWA Management Board's current priorities especially those related to our future funding situation, as well as some of the previous year's activities.

Following Don Nicholls' resignation, the SSPWA Management is now dealing with the task of appointing a replacement Executive Officer on a short-term contract basis. I should point out that our constitution requires us to appoint our own Executive Officer, and given the recent retirement of Don Nicholls, we must act with some haste as the current workload demands urgent attention.

During the 2020 calendar year, SSPWA has been most proactive in advancing the interests of our members by way of various projects and workshops. In particular I can mention:

• Pre-feasibility, Multi Species Value Adding project has advanced to the reporting stage,

• Representation at DBCA South Coast marine park meetings stating the case of enormous implications for commercial fishing activities,

• AMSA meeting in Esperance (Sept 2020),

• Salmon Industry workshop, conducted in Manjimup (July), has been presented to Minister Tinley for his consideration.

One particular concern to SSPWA fishers is that SSPWA presently has no knowledge of any imminent decision to reverse the G-trap decision from early in 2020. The Minister is well aware of SSPWA's concerns regarding the appropriate use of G-traps to take Australian Herring along the south coast. With the 2021 season rapidly approaching, the current impasse needs to be addressed as soon as possible. South coast herring fishers urgently need a decision to give some level of certainty for the forthcoming season.

Compensation regarding Ngari Capes and Blue Swimmer crabs fishers has unfortunately not gone well, despite the enormous time and commitment put in by Don Nicholls. Not much more could have been expected from SSPWA, especially given that Ngari Capes is ultimately a WAFIC responsibility; being a marine park matter.

From a SSPWA perspective there are many other areas of concern that all members are no doubt acutely aware of!

SSPWA's support for its members is central to the very reason for our continued existence. Financial uncertainty, particularly due to the Chinese export markets closure, has impacted significantly on GVP. Matters associated with the COVID 19 pandemic have also negatively affected the viability of much of the State's commercial fishing sector. It may be time for the commercial fishing sector to seek some alterations to the current industry funding model, thus relieving some pressures to otherwise cut costs and services to members.

SSPWA, however, continues to deliver on its financial reporting responsibilities to WAFIC, always endeavouring to improve relations and communications with our funders.

Members will be aware that WAFIC and sector body funding agreements are due for renewal, and reviews are in progress now.

SSPWA is due to meet with the WAFIC Chair and CEO early next week. We intend to make the point that our association believes that the sector body model must continue, and as we represent some twenty four fisheries we must be funded appropriately. SSPWA acknowledges, however, that we may need to prepare for enhancements and changes to our funding, until such time as the State's economic situation turns around.

There are those outside SSPWA, that are of the opinion that SSPWA has a discredited reputation, apparently with complaints being received at Departmental and Ministerial levels concerning SSPWA operations; “since inception”.

The source of alleged complaints has never been disclosed to SSPWA, let alone the nature of such. We simply have no idea! SSPWA fully intends investigating the accusations made, and ultimately we need to have the right of reply before any possible remedial actions may be undertaken.

We also will seek to meet with the WAFIC Board to outline our funding concerns, as well as our recent inability to meet with the Minister on matters crucial to our various operational undertakings.

2020 has been quite a difficult year for our members on a number of fronts!

There have been changes to our Board of Management during 2020, however the total commitment of the 2021 committee in representing the best interests of our growing membership base is assured.

Going forward I believe the future will only become brighter for all of our members, and I wish everyone a better, healthier and more productive 2021. I particularly encourage you to keep in contact with your regional representatives and executive members whenever necessary.

Best wishes

Matt Benson-Lidholm JP

Chair Southern Seafood Producers (WA) Association Inc.

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