Seafish Round Up October 2015

Posted by Paul Williams, Chief Executive on 12 October 2015

This is going to be my last blog, so an obvious moment for looking back over more than a decade with Seafish. I first joined as the Technical Director back when Seafish was all based in Hull, in a big old fashioned maze of an office overlooking the Humber, with the Flume Tank just around the corner. There was a personal parking place for the Director and an Executive toilet for my exclusive use. I still occasionally wonder why I got rid of those perks, but I did so within my first week. In terms of structure, there was layer on layer of management, with inertia in decision making built into the system.

The then Chief Executive, John Rutherford, had been brought in to change things and we certainly did that. As is always the case, that was difficult in many ways, with redundancies, closing the Flume Tank, the move from Hull to Grimsby, but it was also change that was needed.

I took over as Chief Executive at what was probably the most difficult time in the whole history of the organisation. The famous court case, that threatened to close Seafish down altogether, had a positive side though. It forced us all, both in Seafish and in the industry, to rethink why Seafish existed and what its function should be for the future. Out of that came a reorganisation of the Seafish Board and the introduction of the Panels.

One of our main levy payers asked me recently what I was most proud of in my time as Chief Executive and what was I going to miss. I think the broad answer to the first question has to be "bringing us closer to our levy payers". I think the Panel structure has changed the balance of our relationship with the businesses that pay for Seafish. There is now a very clear mechanism for industry to set the agenda for all of our work and it has been wonderful to be part of the measured and sensible debates that have led to our latest Corporate Plan.

In terms of what I'll miss that's easy - it's the people. The focused, dynamic, occasionally eccentric and exasperating people who work in seafood have given me a lot of support in my role as Chief Exec of Seafish and many of them have become more than simply business colleagues. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to Seafish, whether serving on Board or Panels, attending our committees or just giving me personally a bit of advice or encouragement.