Martin Exel: A Peak Body to Make a Positive Difference for Our Industry

Martin ExelThe United Seafood Industries Forum meeting in Adelaide supported a Peak Body for our industry, and set up a ‘Task Force’ to create recommendations for its next meeting.

We’re all passionate about our industry, and keen to create some ideas towards a useful, valuable, supported Peak Body.  All of us on the Task Force are determined to put in the effort because we feel that our industry gets a bad deal, in so many ways.  I’m sick of seeing how badly the seafood industry gets treated in the media; or how easily we lose our access rights to catch or grow seafood.

I’d like to see us have public support for how well managed Australian fisheries and aquaculture is; and support for the fact that our businesses are a large part of the community that is ‘regional Australia’.

Not all regional Australians are sheep farmers, horticulturists, or cattle grazers – and our Seafood Industry deserves recognition for how much we contribute to our local economy.

There are plenty other things that impact on all of us, nationally, where we could be doing better.    Many of them are the ‘boring’ policy issues, but they can kill our industry faster than any biosecurity breach.  Things like fighting to retain the diesel fuel rebate have been talked about for so long we all think it’s never going to change (and hopefully it won’t!).

But we should be on the front foot when it comes to issues like crew and workplace labour arrangements; labelling of products; market access for Australian seafood, and many other issues.

So the Task Force is underway, and we’re working to provide some recommendations for the Forum to consider in mid-July.   At this stage we’ve had one telephone meeting, and have two others planned, along with one face-to-face meeting on 1st June, so we can refine our report to the Forum.

I’d like to thank each of the Task Force members who are contributing their time and expertise free of charge to the process – Anthony Ciconte, Dallas Donovan, Tim Hess, Barbara Konstas, Veronica Papacosta, Clive Perryman, Katherine Winchester, and Jonas Woolford.   With their combined expertise, I’m sure we’ll come up with some proposals the Forum will be able to consider for our industry.

Here’s to a United Seafood Industry with a strong, effective, cost-efficient Peak Body, supported and funded by our industry, and that is able to make a positive difference, for all of us.

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