In any industry, in order to lead you first have to be comfortable with listening. 

We need to be cognisant of different views, drivers, values and aspirations, and consider how we reflect those in our strategy, in our members’ companies, and in what we do as a seafood industry. At the annual Seafood New Zealand conference this week, the theme was Seafood for a New Generation. The conference’s first day involved dedicated time to listening to the views of young people working in the industry, politicians from across the House, and eNGOs, about what a successful seafood industry looks like to them. 

Delegates listened to the views shared and considered them alongside Seafood New Zealand’s vision: “Leading a thriving seafood industry that creates value for all New Zealanders from a healthy marine environment.” 

A cross-section of the industry then discussed what they had heard to form a basis for informed action. Some of the key points of commonality included:

  • Commercial fishing is important to New Zealand.
  • It is crucial to protect New Zealand’s oceans. 
  • Good research and data, and developing technology is key.
  • Our people and connection to communities is central to what we do.
  • The sector story needs to be widely celebrated and shared. 

Discussions from the first conference day recognised we need to define clearly what a healthy marine environment is, so we can all agree where we are heading and how to measure progress. We need to do this together and with stakeholders from outside the industry. 

This is the value of the Fisheries Industry Transformation Plan (ITP). It offers up important initiatives we can move forward on, with each other, and with others. It is a plan to guide the actions of industry and government over the coming years, and hopefully provide some certainty and ensure our work delivers positive outcomes for the seafood industry and our oceans. 

Collaboration is embedded in the ITP. At its launch, Minister Brooking said, “The actions outlined in this plan require commitment and investment from across the industry, government, scientists, educational institutions, and NGOs.”

We agree. Successful change isn’t something one organisation – or even one sector – can achieve alone. And in fact, we have never worked alone. It is important to acknowledge our sector has already significantly invested in change over many years, with researchers and technologists collaborating with companies to lighten our footprint and improve how we fish. We rightly celebrated a number of these technological, scientific and community-focussed initiatives on day two of our conference. The work being done in our industry is impressive and impactful.

Representing the sector, the newly amalgamated Seafood New Zealand is looking to lead from the front, provide a line of sight to where we are going, and be the change-maker for the future.

We know that success for the oceans and the sector will happen when we work together as an industry and with others outside the sector, listening and moving forward positively.