I write this just having returned from "Seafood Saturday" in Nelson. An event that celebrates all things seafood. Obviously seafood is a very large part of the economy in Nelson. Talking to many locals, most of whom were not directly involved in our Industry, it struck me how little they know about us. 

Although they were all very supportive, the old perceptions remain. For example, their perception of bottom trawling and bycatch. Collectively we have a lot of work to do as I see it to lift New Zealand’s understanding of us. If nothing else, understanding that we earn approximately $2bn in export receipts, we employ 16,000 people mostly in regional New Zealand and we have a quota system that is the envy of the world and ensures fish stocks remain healthy for the generation that follows us. We have also made huge advances in bottom trawling and it is restricted to a very small portion of the ocean. There is much to be proud of.

I’m six months into this role I still have much to learn, but getting those messages understood will be fundamental to our long-term success.
Oceans and Fisheries Minister Shane Jones is off to a very enthusiastic start to his portfolio. We have also had a number of interactions with his "deputy" (the Under-Secretary), NZ First MP Jenny Marcroft. 
A couple of weeks back the Minister called a hui in Wellington of key people within our Industry to identify the roadblocks to us "adding more value" to the New Zealand economy. His message to all in the room was very clear, that Aotearoa is a very small export driven economy and increasing exports will be the key to us all getting back to a living standard in New Zealand that we all want. From the discussion that followed a number of themes emerged. 
Regulation is a huge issue. The room understood that greater transparency is a positive but how regulation is put in place and the huge distraction it causes, rather than getting on with the job, is a huge barrier to our success. Once again all understood the reality of cost recovery but to have the quantum on this growing at such an alarming rate with little transparency about the detail of those costs being communicated back to the funders was unacceptable.
A number of work streams were identified and the CEO's in the room were willing to have their staff work with officials to try and find ways through the issues that came up. We made it clear to the Government that there was a real urgency to find solutions. We will keep you updated as things progress.
Let’s be clear, everyone I meet in this industry is focused on sustainability. That’s just basic, table stakes for fishers. No one should misunderstand the desire to limit red tape as a wish to escape our duties and responsibilities. We get it and all the fishers I talk to want to do the right thing. They ARE doing the right thing and the innovation and care I see in the industry is excellent. 
That is something we want the people I met in Nelson to understand and for every New Zealander to understand. You can be proud of this industry. And the Kiwis in seafood can and should be proud, whether it’s the Seafood New Zealand Board, the people catching and processing the fish, the people preparing it in our fish and chip shops and the rest. 
So enjoy your seafood with pride. We certainly did at Seafood Saturday and judging by the reactions of the public, the people of Nelson did too.