A reflective look at 2012

Posted by Paul Williams, Chief Executive on 09 January 2013

2012 was always going to be a big year for Seafish. A new Board to bed in, a new structure with industry Sector Panels to be organised and, once all of that was in place, a new corporate plan to be agreed. At the start of the year there were quite a few people who were telling me that the task of implementing all the changes and getting a new plan in place in the same year would be impossible. In the event, we not only did the job but did it well. That was partly down to the brilliant support I received from so many of the people who work for Seafish but, equally, to the positive, supportive and pragmatic attitude of so many members of our industry Panels.

No-one is pretending that the process we have been through in constructing the Seafish Corporate Plan was perfect. Most Panel participants would agree that we could have done with more time, more analysis of the possibilities and more evaluation of potential outcomes. Everyone recognised, however, that we were working to a deadline to outline our new Plan and to get the Seafish staff to work and, rather than focus on the problems, the Panels focused on reaching agreement on the important areas for spend and effort going forwards. So let me take this opportunity of saying thank you to everyone involved. I think it was a real practical demonstration of how the industry is learning to value the benefits of an independent, non-sectoral Seafish.

Of course, some issues remain, particularly the question of whether levy should be used to subsidise fishermen's training. Everyone recognises the problem of fishermen's safety, with fishing remaining the most dangerous job in the UK and one of the most dangerous internationally, but the question of whether that means that Seafish should be subsidising training remains controversial. Different industry sectors have strong and contradictory feelings on this point and we are now carrying out a review, with an independent chair, to look at how progress these discussions.

This is not the time to concentrate on potential problems, however, but to celebrate the fact that we have so much alignment between all sectors on the key areas of work that Seafish needs to undertake. We now have to set some benchmarks, so that we have ways of measuring success in the future, and get everybody to work on the targets agreed by the Panels. As we go through 2013, we will be reviewing our performance regularly. Before we get into 2014 there will be an opportunity for the Panels to make changes and to rethink directions, but, for now, the central focus for Seafish is getting moving as quickly as possible to start making some real progress in the areas that industry have highlighted.

Paul Williams, Chief Executive