TomKat Line Fish: Seafood Expo Global – The Final Line

Posted in Industry News

This is the final post from Kath and Tom. Thanks for the updates and welcome back to Australia.

From Kath…

Produce: “Sustainability, traceability and quality”: were the catch words of the expo. There was certainly a lot of evidence of how different companies and organisations are approaching the challenges of sustainability and traceability, but it is not as easy to prove quality.

We attended the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI) forum, which celebrates five years of operation this year, and a forum held to discuss what the future has in store for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) which has been in existence for over 20 years.

MSC CEO, Rupert Howes, discussed the future of the program and the challenges it has faced, and continues to face. Tom took the opportunity to ask Rupert a few questions and will share his insights separately.

Packaging: Running in conjunction with Seafood Expo Global was Seafood Processing Global, which exhibited every aspect of seafood processing including processing materials and equipment, packaging, refrigeration and transportation. Identifying new, innovative and environmentally responsible packaging solutions was a priority on our agenda and we were not disappointed.

Potential: Having the opportunity to see how the industry is addressing the challenges of a changing environment and fluctuating market, meeting face-to-face with producers, buyers and suppliers and sampling and experiencing the diverse range of produce was an amazing experience for us. We are optimistic about the future of our industry and enthusiastic to follow up on many of the pathways that were revealed to us.

I would like to extend sincere thanks and gratitude to Peter Horvat, General Manager Communications, Trade and Marketing, FRDC and the dynamic Fish-X team who made our trip a reality.

Partnering – Industry Investing in Itself:  X-Lab will be running the next Fish-X Two-Day Workshop on the 5th – 6th June 2018 at the Sydney Fish Markets. Applications close 17 May 2018.

From Tom…

Sustainability and product traceability: From the expo, we could see the industry members that are driven by it and others that possibly use it for the purpose of marketing advantage. There is absolutely no doubt as to how important the S & T is, but how do we really know if it’s real or just marketing hype…Marine Stewardship Council CEO, Rupert Howes, presentation certainly had me listening, but the full value of his presentation was during question time.

An attendee asked in a very direct fashion, why the Orange Roughy fishery in Tasmania was re-opened when it was not a sustainable fishery, still suffering from the 80’s over fishing. Rupert’s science-based response to the re-opening of the fishery left no doubt in my mind as to the value of MSC certification, its application to some fisheries being the stumbling block…

It was acknowledged that 60% of the world’s fisheries may never be in a position to achieve MSC certification, and that 30% of the worlds fisheries are considered overfished. As fishers, processors, retailers and consumers we all have a role to play in steering our industry’s future direction. Currently in Queensland a whole fishery, individual fishers and collective fishers are looking at MSC, with some preparing for assessment or optional pre-assessment.

For me, visiting both London and Brussels has provided clarity to how the seafood industry operates and its relationship to our own industry. From my perspective, industry reforms especially government implemented ones, involve stress, anxiety and often come with financial cost or burden. I now look at reform in a different light, I see fishers getting more involved, upskilling, direct market sales and supplying really premium product and getting superior prices for it. It is early days, but it is trending that way now…

A current brief on MSC as to date, with the figures speaking for themselves…

More than 310 fisheries in over 35 countries are certified to the MSC Fisheries Standard. These fisheries have a combined annual seafood production of almost 10 million metric tonnes, representing close to 10% of annual global yields. More than 24,000 seafood products worldwide carry the MSC ecolabel.

Authors: Tom and Kath Long

Image: Tom and Kath Long

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