In 2017 the industry admitted to not always getting it right but promised to continue to raise the bar around innovation, sustainability, guardianship, transparency and environmental responsibility.
That promise will be reinforced in the second year of a campaign that kicks off on Sunday with mainstream television advertising.
The seafood sector has a great story to tell and has made significant and genuine advances in all areas but that is not always the public perception.
We will continue to evolve and improve and, most importantly, we are prepared to be judged on our progress.
In the past few weeks we have been going port to port highlighting the industry code of conduct that backed up the Promise made last year.
That code reinforces that we do not condone illegal behaviour; we will work with Government and other interested parties to ensure the fishery is sustainable; we will seek to minimise our impact on the marine environment; we will continue to invest in science and innovation; treat our people fairly; and be accountable.
In every port we have received unequivocal support.
"Its about time we stepped up like this," said one skipper.
The ports visited so far are Nelson, Greymouth, New Plymouth, Tauranga, Whitianga, Auckland, Leigh, Gisborne, Timaru and Lyttleton. A further five - Mangonui, Whangarei, Hawke’s Bay, Port Chalmers and Bluff – are scheduled in the next month.
Those communities, dotted from one end of the country to the other, also illustrate how important the diverse seafood industry is in terms of employment, export and domestic market returns and in providing fresh, healthy food.
This is a different industry from even a few years ago. The strides in innovation are significant. Initiatives such as Precision Seafood Harvesting, which delivers exceptional quality fish through a world-class handling process, and the Acoustic Optical System, which targets particular species up to a kilometre down, are world-leading.
Our people are genuinely committed to good environmental practise. Seabird mitigation methods are mandatory and we work closely with government agencies to minimise endangered species captures. In a number of cases the industry has voluntarily removed itself from areas of concern.
And despite what some believe, the advent of cameras on vessels is not something the industry opposes. But we do want them to be fit for purpose – one size does not fit all - and welcome the delay initiated by Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash while that is worked through.
Everywhere we go around New Zealand there are good people doing a good job. They are our people keeping our promise and we are happy to be judged on their actions.
The television and social media campaign beginning this weekend will run until nearly the end of the year and once again features the men and women of the seafood industry, those doing the catching and processing, rather than hired actors.
There are two key themes – sustainability and kaitiakitanga/guardianship.
Some 97 percent of all the fish landed from New Zealand waters is from fish stocks certified as sustainable by the Ministry for Primary Industries’ scientists. That is thanks to the Quota Management System that limits catches according to the size of the stock. The QMS has served us well over 32 years since its inception in 1986. It is held up as an international example of good practise but it is not perfect. Any system can be improved and the industry is engaging with the regulator to try and achieve that.
We are also proud to be guardians of the resource. Maori are major players in the New Zealand seafood industry and have set the standard.
Their concept of kaitiakitanga is valued by non-Maori commercial fishers as well. In order for our business to prosper for generations to come, the environment must too.