Nash spends modestly on fishing industry awards – and (all going well) they might net a few positive headlines

Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash didn’t mention what winners will receive, when he proudly called for entries for a new public award “to celebrate innovation in our seafood sector”.

Nor did he mention the cost to taxpayers of this initiative.

Point of Order’s checks with the website where more details have been posted suggest the cost won’t chew too heavily into the budget surplus.

Nor will award winners be greatly enriched.  But they can look forward to a “free” feed – which means taxpayers will pick up the tab – at Parliament.

This exercise in political grandstanding accordingly will incur only a modest cost, although we suspect no cost-benefit analysis has been undertaken to justify it.

Nash said he has established the Seafood Sustainability Awards

” … to recognise and celebrate those throughout industry, tangata whenua and communities who demonstrate outstanding dedication and innovation towards the sustainability of New Zealand’s seafood sector. 

“Sustainability of New Zealand’s wild fish stocks, aquaculture, and the wider aquatic environment is a priority. These awards will recognise innovation and the adoption of fishing methods which are critical to encouraging sustainability in our seafood sector.

“New Zealand has one of the world’s largest exclusive economic zones, which provides for the social, cultural and economic wellbeing of all New Zealanders. These awards acknowledge that the long term health and sustainable use of our kai moana is important to everyone. Lifestyles, our livelihoods and our unique marine environment depend on it.

“It is important we celebrate those who have made significant contributions to New Zealand’s seafood sector and recognise their efforts towards sustainability. Entrants might be innovators, scientists, commercial fishers, customary fishers, recreational fishers, marine farmers, community groups, or seafood support businesses. They could be anyone who has taken an active interest in the continuous improvement of New Zealand’s seafood sector.”

Nash said the awards were inspired by the Seabird Smart Awards.

These awards, run by the Southern Seabird Solutions Trust, aim to recognise commercial and recreational fishers who have shown outstanding leadership and commitment to looking after New Zealand seabirds.

Nash and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage presented the main award and two special recognition awards at a reception at Te Papa last night.  

 The inaugural Seafood Sustainability Awards will offer a broader array of categories:  

  • the Operation Innovation Award
  • the Market Innovation and Value-added Award
  • the Kaitiakitanga Award
  • the Supreme Sustainability Award
  • the Emerging Leader Award
  • Minister of Fisheries’ Award.

Entries close on November 22. Finalists will be announced in January and winners will be announced in March “at a special awards dinner and ceremony” in Parliament Buildings, Wellington.

More information can be found here. 

That’s where you will learn that finalists (or their representatives) and guests will be invited to attend the dinner and ceremony “free of charge”.

Up to two highly commended applications in each category may also be recognised and invited to attend the ceremony.

All finalists will receive a certificate of recognition.

Each category winner will be presented with a framed certificate. They will be acknowledged in the New Zealand Seafood Sustainability Awards 2019/2020 booklet and also receive:

  • a trophy;
  • reimbursement for travel and accommodation for the award ceremony (for a representative plus 2 guests, up to $500);
  • an invitation to participate in future MPI initiatives to promote good fisheries and aquaculture practices – for example, speaking engagements.

All other nominees for the New Zealand Seafood Sustainability Awards will be sent a certificate of recognition.

Travel to Wellington is bound to have implications for the carbon emissions which the government is committed to reducing.

We are left to conjecture on what will be served at the “special” awards dinner.   Fish and chips beautifully cooked and presented to the guests, nicely wrapped in pages from Hansard, perhaps.  

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