Catch of the Day – Steve Lawrence

Posted by Steven Lawrence, Data Collection Project Manager on 16 March 2015

How did I get in to the industry…

Despite my Grandad spending most of his working life as a fishmonger, my entry into the industry was completely accidental. I started at Seafish as a temporary worker aiding the then Data Collection Project Manager completing the annual Processor Survey and having previously worked mainly in the banking sector I found it a steep learning curve. I started on a four week contract but those four weeks have now become two years and I am the Data Collection Project Manager doing the same survey as when I started. The fact I'm still here is all down to finding myself in an industry that inspires me with its enduring passion. My entry into the industry might have been an accident but it's one I'm certainly glad of.

How has the industry evolved in the time you've been working in it?

Plenty has changed in the two years since I started at Seafish. The response rates for our surveys show that there has been more of an industry buy in when it comes to sharing data. More interesting though has been the increased desire to share opinions and stories. A team of researchers spend two months every summer engaging in face to face interactions with hundreds of skippers and vessel owners but this is still only a limited period of time. The immediacy provided by social media and the internet has given more individuals a voice and it's heartening to see more and more people joining the wider conversation.

One of the drives behind our new Quay Issues magazine was giving fishers an opportunity to share their stories and to inspire with some of the innovative ways our fleet has evolved practices to tackle a number of challenges. We hope the magazine was successful in doing that and that we can continue doing our part to ensure the industry is heard.

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges facing the industry?

From continually rising costs to recruitment shortages to quota availability, there are a number of issues that emerge time and time again when we conduct our interviews. Taken in isolation our survey results might paint quite a pessimistic view. Yet, with Quay Issues we have found an industry hungry to tackle challenges and find solutions that will allow them to thrive.

Instead, I would say the single biggest challenge facing our industry is one they can do little about and that is the continuing climate of uncertainty. With changing regulations, many linked to the landing obligation, and the unpredictability of factors such as the British weather and the wider economy it is difficult for business owners to plan for the future. The vast majority of vessel owners want to look forward with optimism but with so few guarantees of what the future might look like this becomes very difficult. Yet, even without knowing what comes next, most will continue on and that is again a testament to the passion found in our industry. 


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