Southern Seafood Producers were well represented at the Parliamentary Seafood Cocktail Party, organised by WAFIC to celebrate international sustainable seafood week.
The entrée of oysters was being freshly shucked by Fin’s seafood, much to the liking of State Treasurer, Ben Wyatt MLA. SSPWA Executive Officer, Don Nicholls took the opportunity to inform the Treasurer of some of the opportunities that the Southern Fisheries present. During the conversation, the Treasurer confessed his love for sea mullet, a shared passion with the EO. Don committed to sending the Treasurer the recent Commonwealth funding proposal for a pre-feasibility study into a multi-species value-adding facility for southern fisheries. The Treasurer was interested in the concept and the regional jobs it could create, with an interest in future updates as this progresses.
Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly MLA was in attendance and asked SSPWA how things were going regarding the Flesh Footed Shearwaters (FFS) and Herring G Trap fishery around Albany. Whilst able to confirm the details appeared to be settled for the FFS, there were some problems with the Herring G trap and these need resolution. No sooner were those words spoken than the Minister was whisked away for a photo opportunity. All was not lost, as a subsequent conversation with Minister Kelly’s Senior Policy Officer, Mike McMullan was undertaken and discussions continued the following day.
This issue was also raised with Upper House MP Colin Tincknell MLC, with an agreement that a follow up meeting would be held as the herring G Trap progressed. Mr. Tincknell was interested in a range of other fishery matters and maintains a high level of interest. Important in the political situation where the Government relies on the cross-bench MP’s to get Legislation through.
Chair of the Abalone Industry Council WA, Mr. Arnold Piccoli was very dapper, making an impression on the members, focusing his energy on ensuring that appropriate compensation for the Ngari Capes Marine Park was at front of mind for them all.
Other key figures that SSPWA held discussions with included, Opposition Fisheries Spokesperson, Ian Blayney, Director General of DPIRD, Mr. Ralph Addis, Deputy Director General DPIRD (Regional Development), Mr. Niegel Grazia, WAFIC Chair Dr Ron Edwards, MSC Regional Director, Patrick Caleo.
SSPWA Board Members, Deputy Chair, Manue Daniels was in attendance, as was Treasurer Peter Rickerby, both making the most of rare access to the political decision makers. SSPWA members from Esperance can feel confident that Manue was a great advocate for the industry in the south east. Peter was part of a significant effort by the Roei Abalone Divers Association to try to get a re-alignment of the proposed Ocean Reef Marina. In its current form the Marina will devastate the commercial Roei fishery, with approximately 40% of the state’s commercial catch coming from this area. RADA Chair, John Brindle and diver Dave Sutcliffe did a great job in distributing information packages, including USB’s containing some underwater footage which Dave shot on the reef.
Bev and Rachel Cooke made the most of the time with the politicians, presenting a case for the combined impacts of Commonwealth and State Marine Parks and other issues and ideas affecting the Demersal Gillnet and Longline industry.
Jim Mendolia and Ennio Tavani, from Mendolia Seafoods were mingling with senior Government Ministers and members, reminding them of the importance of having Government support, for value-adding infrastructure in the seafood sector in WA.
Bert Boschetti and daughter, Erica Starling were in animated conversation with numerous representatives, as was Glenn Wheeler from Fremantle Octopus. The scallop industry was well represented by Clayton Nelson, Ian Ricciardi and Hamish Ch’ng who were profiling delicious WA scallops on the menu.
The WAFIC staff did a great job in organizing this event and it is one that provides a great opportunity for our industry to tell our stories to politicians and senior public servants we would not usually get access to.
As the Southern Seafood Producers WA Association is relatively new and little known, it is important to raise the profile of the organisation, our members and the industry wherever possible. Getting the ear of the right politician at the right time can be the difference between getting a successful result or not on priority issues.
Thanks to the many industry members that provided products for the delicious food on the night, in addition to the many members who attended the event to represent the seafood industry in such a professional way.