We take our responsibility to provide more than one billion meals every year seriously, particularly at times like these, and we need government assistance to keep fish on the table.
Since mid-January, SIA [Seafood Industry Australia] has been working hard with all levels of government to ensure our industry receives the support it needs.
We’ve asked all governments across Australia to help us through the next six to 12 months by removing all fees and charges across all of agriculture – not just the seafood industry. We need to secure Australia’s agriculture industry now, so we’re here to continue operating on the other side of this.
Globally, some markets are beginning to reopen and we need the certainty of freight to be able to access them. Getting back to work is the best sort of stimulus, it’s good for morale and it shows we understand our role in meeting the global food task. We are working with Seafood Trade Advisory Group (STAG), industry associations, seafood businesses across Australia and the Federal Government on ways to provide some certainty of supply.
We are also extending calls for calm among panic buyers. Our fishing vessels need to be restocked so they can go fishing, and this means we need more than two bags of frozen vegetables and two packets of pasta, and they certainly need some toilet paper. Some of our larger vessels have arrangements in place, but the rest of the industry shops at their local supermarket, just like you and me.
We need to find a way for our bona fide primary producers to access the supplies they need, so our fishers can continue harvesting and growing the food we all need.
The Australian seafood industry plays a critical role in the global food task, and we want to get back to work. We are confident we can continue to work with our governments on the logistics of the various lockdowns, and that the food supply chain will be recognised as an essential service.
Jane Lovell is the inaugural CEO of Seafood Industry Australia, the national peak body which represents the Australian seafood industry. A scientist by training, Jane has also worked in horticultural export, in the fisheries portfolio in the Australian Federal Parliament, for small businesses and for large multi-national corporations. She was inaugural Managing Director of TQA Australia, a not-for-profit concerned with food safety, quality and environmental assurance in primary industry. In this role, she worked with a range of seafood businesses, from aquaculture to processing and assisted the Tasmanian oyster industry develop and implement its own food safety and quality assurance system. Jane holds qualifications in corporate governance, leadership and has recently completed her Masters examining issues associated with the global governance of food security.