Robert Pender: Why a Strong Partnership Between the National Peak Body and Regional Bodies Is Important

Written by Robert Pender, Chairman of The Fishermens Portal Inc. 

Robert PenderIt’s understandable that some of us are cynical about the proposed national peak body. Right now, we have no way of knowing what the end result will be. One thing I do know is that the peak body has no intention of supporting any kind of seafood levy. To me, this shows that those who are developing the model are in touch with the industry. So personally, I am looking forward to further developments.

Ideally, the national peak body would strive to empower the regional bodies, while the regional bodies continue to empower their individual members, and vice versa.

There are cases where a single fishery or even sector may be solely owned by a single operator, or perhaps only a few operators, but in our fisheries there are many stakeholders. And that’s where regional Associations become very important. A strong partnership between regional bodies and the national peak body means:

  • The peak body can disseminate information to wider industry rapidly through a network of regional bodies.
  • The peak body can draw on the expertise of a significant % of stakeholders as a result of such a large network.
  • A network of regional bodies has the potential to significantly reduce the administrative burden the peak body would have if it were to try to accommodate thousands of single memberships, across each fishery and industry sector.
  • The ability to delegate to regional bodies allows the peak body to focus on its priorities.
  • Regional bodies can advocate on behalf of the peak body to encourage uptake of membership. Conversely, the peak body may assist Associations to promote things like branding projects and seafood festivals.
  • The membership base of the peak body immediately includes every member of an established regional body.
  • Wider industry is exposed to the peak body through the regional bodies and so has the benefit of being able to see how the concept unfolds. Depending on the performance of the peak body, the members of a regional body could potentially agree to increase the financial contribution their association makes to the peak body at a general meeting.
  • Individuals with current membership with their own regional Association do not have to join another organisation and pay another membership fee, or even have to make a choice (which should be avoided if at all possible).
  • Such a nation-wide network would be large enough to generate interest from sponsors and companies seeking exposure to our industry.
  • A regional body has the capacity to pay a generous membership fee to the peak body

The implementation of the Task Force, led by Martin Exel, has been a turning point in the roll out of this project. I feel that grassroots industry is very much involved now, and I look forward to the development of the next steps in consultation to form the national peak body.