Peak bodies across all Australian industries range from the very poor to the outstanding – think of it like a normal curve (i.e. bell-shaped). Unfortunately, this means that most are mediocre. It is these under-performing bodies that are the source of wariness by commercial businesses regarding the value of having a peak body and associating with it.
There are many reasons why a peak body can underperform, with one being lack of scale and representativeness. While commercial markets have tended towards consolidation for scale, in many cases this has not happened with peak bodies. The reality is that scale, inclusiveness and critical mass are fundamental for the authority of a peak body. This is especially so for smaller industries that must compete with powerful interests to influence governments and the community.
Achieving scale is a major issue for the seafood industry, where there is much fragmentation and variable capacity with existing bodies. The seafood industry has done quite a good job without an overarching peak body that is properly equipped to do the required external and internal jobs.
Still, the industry falls well short of what is possible, and for many good people in the industry, the implications of not having an effective national peak body are quite serious.
The good news is that well-designed, modern peak bodies are having a powerful influence on the prosperity of industries. The question is not so much whether to have a peak body, but how to ensure it is a highly effective body that will be valued by seafood businesses.
The opportunity now for the seafood industry is to innovate and create a modern and world class peak body that will exert the level of influence that best reflects the scale and significance of the industry.