The last few weeks have been quite eventful for members of SSPWA.
Of particular note is the resignation of our previous EO Neil MacGuffie. As you know he was subsequently employed as the WAFIC Southern Industries Manager (SIM) from 1 July 2021.
Notwithstanding Neil's move to WAFIC, it must be said that he continued to make an outstanding contribution to our sector body. Neil's loss will be felt across much of our regions, where his knowledge, commitment and professionalism distinguished him from the moment he joined SSPWA. As SIM he soon became an integral member of the WAFIC staff as well as continuing to deliver for SSPWA. Neil established professional relationships with fishers, administrators, Departmental (DPIRD) Heads, Fisheries Ministers and media organisations; all to the enormous benefit of our industry.
Neil is returning to family connections in Melbourne, his SIM duties conclude December 15. There may be an opportunity for him to continue in some form of SIM consultancy role, however as he is employed by WAFIC, SSPWA has been welcomed by the WAFIC CEO to assist in the selection process for a new SIM. That promises to be a tough job!
SSPWA wishes Neil well in his future endeavours, whatever they may be. Indeed Western Australia's loss will certainly be Victoria's gain.
Over the last month or two your Board has been particularly busy shoring up our future as a sector body. We made a significant contribution to the recently released State Government report into WAFIC, conducted by prominent fisheries consultant and administrator Dr Nick Rayns (NSW). The terms of reference focussed somewhat on especially WAFIC's funding, operational activities and its relationships with the various sector bodies. The report very much supported the continuation of much of the current sector body model approach to fisheries administration. Of some interest is that Dr Rayns indicated to me his belief that our State's organisational model was significantly better than other models across the country. High praise indeed!
On the SSPWA local front our 2021 AGM, held in October at the Cockburn Power Boats Club was well attended by Board members, ordinary and associate members. Subsequent meetings on the same day offered professional development presentations and discussion which were also attended by Ms Heather Brayford; Deputy Director General DPIRD, the Minister’s senior policy advisor Andrew Skinner and WAFIC CEO Darryl Hockey.
At the AGM SSPWA fare-welled outgoing Board members Paul Benson and Ben Patton and welcomed Morgan Hand (Metro) and Alan Rule (Albany) as new representatives. Phil Clarke accepted the Secretary's role and Morgan Hand volunteered for the Treasurer's position. A big thank-you to both of them.
Paul and Ben have made an enormous contribution to SSPWA and commercial fishing over many years and we wish them well in their future endeavours. Morgan and Alan have the skills, knowledge and professional qualities to continue to deliver much to SSPWA's future development as a not-for-profit, advocacy body, representing some twenty four fisheries groups across the southern part of WA.
Your Board is currently dealing with a number of difficult matters, Ngari Capes in the South West where compensation is an ongoing matter, aquaculture leases in and around Albany are of serious concern as they will affect fishers who will be impacted by allocation decisions in favour of aquaculture interests. The lack of meaningful communication and consultation by DPIRD regarding the likely impacts on heritage fishers, particularly in Oyster Harbour and King George Sound, is disappointing to say the least. WAFIC CEO Darryl Hockey has been very much on the front foot on these issues and other issues such as the withholding of Herring stock assessment information.
WAFIC has also been especially vocal in raising SSP's serious concerns regarding South Coast Marine Parks and DBCA’s lack of meaningful consultation with industry and community from Bremer Bay to Esperance and beyond. SSPWA acknowledges and thanks Darryl for his strong advocacy and lobbying at both the Ministerial and Departmental levels.
On this very point can I make mention of SSPWA's support for an increased operational relationship with WAFIC; as exemplified by our role in arranging various managed fisheries not currently in receipt of their Industry Consultation Unit, Annual Management Meetings. During the final 2021 committee meeting earlier this week discussion noted that due to the current time constraints leading up to the close of 2021 and subsequently the end of our agreement with WAFIC, a six month extension of the current SSPWA / WAFIC agreement is an acceptable arrangement.
We are greatly confident of negotiating to enter a new agreement with WAFIC, 1 July 2022.
There are many other matters of concern for SSPWA going forward in the regions and the metro area. Should members have critical issues, need further information, or wish to make comment on issues, can I suggest contacting your regional representative Board member.
There is one person who has held SSPWA together in 2021 and that is our Administration Officer, Alison Bramwell. Without Alison's professionalism and outstanding work ethic, it's hard to imagine SSPWA being the success that it is. On behalf of all members and others you have helped on the way, we thank and salute you Alison for your continuing commitment and dedication.
In closing I would like to wish all members a safe and meaningful festive season, as well as a successful 2022; hopefully free from further ravages of COVID.
Matt Benson-Lidholm JP
Chair, Southern Seafood Producers (WA) Association Inc.