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Seafood industry grateful for its essential workers

Thursday 9 April 2020

Two weeks in and two weeks to go, given the best possible circumstances.

This is my first week as chief executive of Seafood New Zealand and it has been a challenging time for us all.

Mostly, I just want to acknowledge those of you out there doing the right thing, for New Zealand, our economy and the industry.

We know it is tough.

Being an ‘essential’ business is a privilege, when you contemplate all of the businesses that are not sure they will survive this pandemic, but we know it comes with some concern for those of you still going to work each day.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has hundreds of their people on the road assessing how well primary industries like ours are doing at keeping people and product safe. The feedback is we are doing very well.

Whether you are a CEO, a crew member, an office worker or a factory worker we owe you a debt of gratitude. We recognise the sacrifices you make to continue to do your job.

Sure, there are still major challenges. Air freight, cold storage, PPE and recovering markets are just some of them.

Some of you have been forced to tie up. Some to stay home. Some to lay off crew.

At a ‘Wellington’ level, it is not going unnoticed. Our politicians understand that without the primary sector, the recovery from this virus would be way tougher.

Our retailers and those that supply them are doing it tough as well. We are actively discussing with government what a move to Level 3 would look like for retailers with a view to both public health and economic recovery. So far, the government’s consistent message has been that public health is the primary concern; a view we endorse. 

Amongst all this are the good stories. Customary fishers delivering to the needy and NIWA delivering restaurant grade kingfish to relief agencies to distribute.

Check on your mates. Look after your family.

We will get through.


Jeremy Helson

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