Awards celebrate industry leaders

There is no shortage of passion and commitment to the industry among the winners of the 2015 National Seafood Industry Awards

By Catherine Norwood

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The largest-ever seafood industry awards night provided a gala conclusion to the successful 2015 Seafood Direction conference in Perth, with well over 400 guests attending the event at the Crown Perth convention centre to celebrate the industry’s leaders.

The awards also included the induction of three new members to the National Seafood Hall of Fame: Peter Dundas-Smith, John Cole and Terry Adams (deceased).

Chair of the Seafood Directions conference committee Arno Verboon said the standard of entries for the national awards was excellent, making it difficult for the judging panel of five. However, Huon Aquaculture was a stand-out for its ongoing commitment to innovation and improvement in its production practices and product quality, and to promotion of the seafood industry in general.

As pioneers of the Australian Atlantic Salmon industry, Huon Aquaculture’s founders and owners Peter and Frances Bender started their company in 1986. From one staff member and one pen of fish, the business has grown to become Australia’s premium producer of Atlantic Salmon, with 550 employees producing 17,000 tonnes of fish a year.

Since 2013 the company has introduced major changes to its operations, making the business a leader in global best practice in sea-cage design, occupational health and safety, feeding and animal husbandry technologies and online sustainability reporting.

Bringing the catch to customers, New South Wales wholesaler and retailer De Costi Seafoods was named as the Best Large Business for its constant product innovation and pursuit of excellence, based on the principles of providing a diverse range of quality, sustainably produced seafood, with outstanding customer service.

Wholesaler Central Seafoods in Western Australia won the Best Small Business Award. Established in 2011, the wholesale fish business is a relative newcomer, but is well supported by local industry. Its use of high-profile, branded fridge and freezer cabinets in retail outlets, clear labelling, convenient serving sizes and packaging combined with online marketing has contributed to a rapid growth in sales.

The Best Promotion awardee, Love Australian Prawns campaign, successfully united prawn farmers and wild-catch fishers in the first national campaign run across an entire seafood category. Now in its third year, the campaign has increased awareness of Australian prawns, leading to increased prices and an increased profile for prawn fishers and farmers across the county.

Catering for diners, Kelly Morgan, in Mackay, Queensland, won the Best Fish and Chips Award with a business that began as a roadside stall selling her husband Andrew Morgan’s fresh local catch. She now has 28 staff in two stores, Morgans Fish Market & Takeaway and Morgans Fish Bar, which makes a point of preparing all seafood products fresh in-store, and featuring fresh fish caught daily from local fishers.

In Perth, chef Peter Manifis and co-owner Anna Watts go further afield to source the very best seafood from around Australia for their Incontro Restaurant, which won the Best Restaurant Award. This includes difficult-to-source, seasonal seafood, with up to 11 species on the menu at any one time.

People Development Award winning team: (from left) Jason Smith, Patrick O’Brien, Janet Howieson, Peter Manifis and Nathan McMurdo.
Photo: Ian + Erick

Often dealing direct with fishers, their criteria include sustainability, quality and care in handling along the entire supply chain.

Always willing to share his seafood knowledge, Peter Manifis was also involved in seafood training videos that won the People Development Award.

The project was led by Janet Howieson, of Curtin University’s Centre of Excellence for Science, Seafood and Health, and Patrick O’Brien at the West Coast Institute of Training, and addressed an identified gap in the seafood training for certified chefs and trained apprentice chefs in the selection, care and preparation of a diverse range of seafood.

Northern Territory fisher Bill Passey, of Australia Bay Seafoods, was named Seafood Industry Ambassador for his contribution over 50 years to the development of WA’s rocklobster fishery, and three NT fisheries: drop line and trap; finfish trawl; and demersal trawl. This includes his development of the semi-demersal trawl net, the Wendy net and bycatch reduction devices, which have become the mandated industry standards to ensure the sustainability of trawl fishing in the north.

Research and liaison officer for the Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association, Claire Webber was named the Seafood Industry’s Young Achiever. However, all finalists in the Young Achiever Award category received Encouragement Awards, which Arno Verboon said reflected the difficulty the judges faced in selecting the winner.

A collaboration between the Northern Prawn Fishery and the refrigeration specialist consultancy The Expert Group won the National Research, Development and Extension Award.

The refrigerant currently in use is being phased out internationally. This Australian Seafood Cooperative Research Centre project developed and tested new high-efficiency refrigeration designs to help trawlers select a replacement refrigerant capable of meeting the fishery’s needs, which are among the most demanding refrigeration requirements in the world (see FISH September 2015).

The Environment Award was presented jointly to two clean-up campaigns, the Darwin Harbour Clean-Up and the South West Tasmanian Debris Cleanup team, led by rocklobster fisher Dave Wyatt and environmental consultant Matt Dell. This award recognises contributions to the protection and rehabilitation of aquatic environments, and efforts to reduce adverse impacts of the seafood industry on the environment.

The Darwin Harbour Clean-Up has been running since 2010 as a work-day clean-up involving many businesses and agencies that work on the water on a daily basis, rather than volunteers. More than 17 tonnes of rubbish has been collected from the harbour in the six annual clean-ups.

The Tasmanian event has been running since 1999 as a week-long clean-up of remote beaches on Tasmania’s south-west coastline, which are generally only accessible by boat. In 2014 more than 47,000 items of rubbish were collected by the 20 volunteers involved. 

2015 National Seafood Industry Award Winners

Best Primary Producer: Huon Aquaculture (TAS)
Finalists: Coffs Harbour Fishermen’s Co-operative (NSW), Australia Bay Seafoods (NT)

Best Large Business: De Costi Seafoods (NSW)
Finalists: Austral (WA), Humpty Doo Barramundi  (NT)

Best Small Business: Central Seafoods (WA)
Finalists: Debbie’s Seafood (QLD), Darwin Fish Market (NT)

Research, Development and Extension: Northern Prawn Fishery and The Expert Group (QLD)
Finalists: Daniel Lerodiaconou (SA), Small Pelagic Fishery Research Team (TAS)

Environment: (joint winners) Darwin Harbour Clean-Up partners (NT) and Dave Wyatt, Matt Dell and the South West Tasmania Marine Debris Cleanup team (TAS)
Xl Oysters (NSW)

People Development: Janet Howieson (WA)
Northern Prawn Fishery Industry Crew Member Observer Program (QLD), Aquaculture Trade Training Centres Group (TAS)

Best Promotion: Love Australian Prawns (QLD, WA)
Regional Development Australia Whyalla and Eyre Peninsula (SA), Bruce Davey, ‘Drawing the Line’ Documentary (NT)

Best Restaurant: Incontro Restaurant (WA)
Saffron (NT), Flathead Café and Fishmongers (TAS)

Best Fish and Chips: Morgans Fish Market & Takeaway and Morgans Fish Bar (QLD)
Frying Nemo (NT), Sweetlips (WA).

Young Achiever: Claire Webber (SA)
James Tyrer (QLD), Christine Huynh (TAS), Johnathon Davey (VIC) and Phillip Clark (WA) – all finalists received Encouragement Awards

Seafood Industry Ambassador Award: Bill Passey (NT)
: Bradley Warren (NSW), Grahame Tapley (SA)

New members join seafood hall of fame

Terry Adams, WA
Terry Adams (deceased) discovered Greenlip Abalone in commercial quantities in the Augusta region of Western Australia, established a professional abalone fishery in the area and laid the foundations for abalone aquaculture in Flinders.

He was also active in salmon, tuna, rocklobster, snapper, shark and scallop fisheries at a time when societal attitudes to the use of marine resources challenged the fishing industry.

He provided leadership through local and industry representative bodies, including the Western Australian Fishing Industry Council, to respond positively to these challenges, and supported management that combined sustainable fish stocks and responsible harvesting as a basis for profitable enterprises. He was a committed practical, conservationist who made a significant contribution to the conservation estate in WA.

John Cole, WA
Based in the small fishing town of Dongara in Western Australia, John Cole has been actively involved in the fishing industry for more than 50 years, taking on leadership roles at a local, state and national level. These ranged from the Dongara Professional Fishermen’s Association to the chair of the Western Australia Fishing Industry Council.

John Cole was also heavily involved in the consultation process that helped to establish the FRDC and the Australian Fisheries Management Authority in the 1990s. In 1990 John was awarded membership in the Order of Australia (General Division) AM for services to the fishing industry.

He also helped to initiate the process that led to the formation of the Western Rock Lobster Council, serving as chair in 2009-10, and continuing as a director today.

Peter Dundas-Smith, NSW
Peter Dundas-Smith has shown leadership and dedication to the future of the Australian seafood industry through his numerous and varied roles over the past 22 years.

These roles have included: inaugural executive director, FRDC; chair, Aquafin Cooperative Research Centre (CRC); chair, Australian Seafood CRC; director, OceanWatch Australia; director, Seafood Services Australia; and vice-president, Australian Fisheries Academy.

He has also been a member of numerous advisory bodies related to the fishing industry and the science community. He continues to advocate for his longstanding vision for the industry: united under a single entity charged with the responsibility for contributing to the economic, environmental and social sustainability of the seafood industry.

More information

Seafood Directions