For 20 years (and counting) I’ve been hooked on all things fisheries. As a marine biologist, it was of course the science that first appealed but it’s the industry, the people, and of course the delicious seafood that reeled me in.

This week has been my last full week as the CEO of Seafood New Zealand. It has been an honour to be at the helm as we navigated COVID and brought together the three entities – Fisheries Inshore New Zealand, Deepwater Group, and Seafood New Zealand – into one.

The purpose of Seafood NZ is to lead a thriving seafood industry that creates value for all New Zealanders from a healthy marine environment. As you’ll know, this isn’t an easy task. There is no shortage of challenges in our industry, some of which were discussed at the recent Feds conference and in last week’s Update. 

However, you can be confident the Seafood New Zealand team is working hard for the industry. We are an industry that is solutions focused and we look to science and good policy to guide us.  

Alongside growing our economic contribution to the country, ensuring sustainability and environmental protection will continue to be front and centre for our industry, and innovation plays a big part in ensuring the industry’s environmental footprint lessens over time. If you’re a fisher, make sure you get along to the upcoming gear innovation workshops over the coming months.

Our industry continues to contribute so much to New Zealand. Ongoing demand for our quality sustainable seafood continues to drive up export prices, with the seafood export revenue forecast to increase 8% to $2.3 billion this current financial year.

On top of this, our industry employs (directly and indirectly) around 16,500 people, many of whom reside in regional communities, and we have always recognised the importance of employing New Zealanders and maintaining strong connections to our coastal communities.

This industry is special and truly something to be proud of. I know it’s not always easy to keep our heads held high when there is so much noise saying otherwise. But I’ve been in the industry long enough to know we are good people.   

I’ve been asked by a number of people what I will miss most, and it’s those characters from the boardroom to the wheelhouse, who I will miss. We have some fantastic people in this industry, I’d love to see more of their stories shared with the public. And, of course a special thank you to the Seafood New Zealand staff who have worked beside me over the past few years.

Seafood New Zealand will be welcoming a new CEO – Lisa Futschek. She is an experienced diplomat and has been a champion of New Zealand seafood in several big overseas fora.

I’m confident she will be a strong and energetic voice for our people. Please make her welcome and share your knowledge with her. And keep innovating. That’s how we will have a truly sustainable industry with a strong future.

I’m not jumping off the hook completely; I’m just jumping across the ditch to take up a role with consulting firm MRAG Asia Pacific. I can tell you with certainty that I will miss the industry and the great people, but I will not miss the Wellington weather.

Hei konā mai, goodbye for now

Dr. Jeremy Helson