By Clarisa Collis
Australia’s seafood industry honoured its highest achievers at the 7th National Seafood Industry Awards, held in Port Lincoln, South Australia, in October.
More than 300 people attended the gala event, which showcased the industry’s value to the national economy, its professionalism and commitment to supplying some of the finest seafood in the world to local, national and international markets.
The awards also launched the biennial Seafood Directions Conference, from 27 to 30 October, which brought together representatives from all sectors of the seafood industry to discuss the latest research, industry issues and trends.
Seafood Directions chair Jonas Woolford said the national awards provided an auspicious start to the conference.
“They celebrate the positive contributions of individuals, partnerships, businesses and organisations towards a sustainable and profitable Australian seafood industry.”
He says the strong field of entrants from all states was shortlisted to three in each category for final judging.
The evening’s highest honour, the National Seafood Industry Ambassador Award, was presented to Western Australian rocklobster fisher John Cole AM. John Cole has been a passionate advocate for the promotion and advancement of the industry for more than 50 years, including the need for better science and a coordinated approach to decision-making.
Other finalists for this award were Tasmania’s Allen Hansen, a pioneer of the abalone industry, and Peter Dundas Smith, chair of the Australian Seafood Cooperative Research Centre and former executive director of the FRDC.
Australia’s leading producer of Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar), Tassal, took out the 2013 National Seafood Industry Large Business Award.
This recognises the company’s role as a major employer in Tasmania (850 staff) and its market leadership, as well as commitment to maintaining internationally recognised standard of sustainable aquaculture production.
Runners-up were WA premium seafood wholesaler Endeavour Foods and the South Australian Prawn Co-operative.
The National Seafood Industry Primary Producer Award winner was Marine Produce Australia, which farms Barramundi (Lates calcarifer) at Cone Bay, north of Broome, in WA.
Runners-up were Humpty Doo Barramundi, based on the Adelaide River south of Darwin, and mussel and scallop producer Spring Bay Seafoods, from Triabunna, Tasmania.
Australia Bay Seafoods claimed the National Seafood Industry Environmental Award for its efforts in reducing bycatch of large marine species by 95 per cent, and adopting new technology to reduce the impact of trawling in its Northern Territory fisheries. Runners-up were the Moreton Bay Seafood Industry Association and the Victorian Bay and Inlet Fisheries Association.
Del Giorno’s Cafe Restaurant in Port Lincoln, SA, won the National Seafood Industry Best Restaurant Award for its efforts in combining quality seafood dining with promotion of the region’s seafood through initiatives such as seafood masterclasses, staff education and Seafood Lovers Weekend programs.
Runners-up were Hallam’s Waterfront Restaurant in Launceston, Tasmania, and Saltnpeppa Café Ristorante in Darwin.
The National Seafood Industry Award for the Best Fish and Chips went to Sweetlips, which has outlets in Leederville, Fremantle and Scarborough, WA, and focuses on fresh, locally harvested seafood, prepared from whole fish in-store. Runners-up were the Point Cartwright Seafood Market in Queensland and the Barra Bar Seafood Cafe in Darwin.
The Darwin Fish Market, based at Fisherman’s Wharf, won the 2013 Small Business Award. The Australian-only seafood wholesaler and retailer has developed a range of new products and also provides education campaigns, cooking programs and tastings.
Runners-up were the processor and export business Seafoods Tasmania and She Sells Seafood, a fishmonger in Castlemaine, Victoria.
Austral Fisheries, based in Perth, won the National Seafood Industry Promotion Award for its work with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) to achieve sustainability certification for all four of the fisheries it operates in.
Specific initiatives include the launch of ‘Glacier 51’-branded MSC-certified Patagonian Toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) and promotion of its MSC-certified prawns.
Runners-up were Tasmanian rocklobster fisher Christopher Parker for his community promotion work in Hobart, and the Wildcatch Fisheries SA – Complete Seafood Experience 2011, which was part of the SA Port Festival.
The People Development Award was a joint affair, shared by Samara Miller, from the Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association and Tony’s Tuna International, based in Port Lincoln, SA.
They worked together to match staff skills in the tuna industry with nationally recognised vocational qualifications and career pathways, providing a model for other sectors of the seafood industry.
Runners-up were Rural Training Initiatives, which runs the National Seafood Industry Leadership Program, and the Tasmanian Shellfish Enterprise Diploma program.
The industry’s 2013 Young Achiever was Ben Cameron, who is general manager of his family’s shellfish hatchery, Cameron of Tasmania, which provides about half of the national oyster industry spat.
The award recognises his leadership role working with several groups to improve oyster and shellfish-related research, disease management, quality assurance and strategic planning for the seafood industry.
SA rocklobster fisher Emily Rowe and NT teenager Elspeth Davey, who lives and works on her family’s Spanish Mackerel (Scomberomorus commerson) fishing boat in the Gulf of Carpentaria, were runners-up.
A collaborative research project between the Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association and the University of Tasmania won the Research, Development and Extension Award.
The project, funded by the FRDC, has helped to reduce the mortality of farmed Southern Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus maccoyii) by 13 per cent, adding an estimated $20 million to the value of the industry.
Runners-up were Janet Howieson, a senior researcher with the Centre of Excellence for Science, Seafood and Health, and the Tasmanian Abalone GIS Team working with the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies and the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment.
The gala awards night also marked the launch of the National Seafood Hall of Fame, with 32 previous state or national seafood ambassador awardees inducted.
The Hall of Fame has been created to recognise and record the contributions of the seafood industry’s leaders and innovators. Seafood Industry Icons – the winners of the Ambassador Award – are named every two years as part of the Seafood Directions Conference.
A permanent Seafood Directions website will house the details of the icons, who exemplify the very best of the industry, as nominated by their peers.
1. Wong WingChee (left) and Best Restaurant Award winner Kris Bunder
2. Graeme Turk (left) with Hall of Fame inductees Gloria and Henry Jones.
3. Best Fish and Chips Award winner Michael Waldcock (left) with Patrick Hone.
Photos: Steven Davies