Western Rock Lobster’s first DECK Program forum which aims to build capacity within the industry, was held last week with great success.
The DECK Program provides professional development opportunities for those in the western rock lobster industry to develop their industry knowledge, skills, capability and networks to continually improve their industry knowledge, fishing operations and business management.
Held at the Aquarium of Western Australia in Hillarys, participants travelled from up and down the coast to attend.
Western Rock Lobster CEO Matt Taylor said those who attended really valued the experience and will encourage others to attend in the future.
“We were really encouraged by the next generation from our industry putting forward great ideas and being so willing to learn, question and become involved through the DECK Program,” Mr Taylor said.
Attending the first DECK Program forum was a unique opportunity for those participants to shape the future of what the DECK Program will deliver to them going forward, ensuring the program remains relevant and useful to their business and operations.
There was a fantastic line up of speakers and interactive presentations during the two-day forum held on Thursday 11th and Friday 12th October.
Kurt Glass from Kalbarri said it was well worth the journey to attend the DECK Program.
“Overall, I really enjoyed it. A lot of the guest speakers excited me about the future and I was also pleased with the willingness to offer assistance to improving individual operations”, Mr Glass said.
Presentations ranged from social licence and building trust in the industry, to benchmarking and succession planning. There was also fantastic presentation from Greg Hart Director of Wildoceans and Nathan Maxwell-McGinn, Chair of the Seafood Trade Advisory Group (STAG) on the current and future market for western rock lobster.
Radley Woodcock, a third-generation lobster fisherman from Geraldton, said he really enjoyed participating and that he believes the DECK Program will only get better moving forward.
“The DECK Program was great and I absorbed so much information.
“The standout sessions for me were benchmarking, succession planning and the presentations on the current market.”
Mr Woodcock started working in the industry at the age of 15 starting on deck, progressing to skipper, and then in 2009 started running his own fishing company.
“My fishing operation is based in Geraldton and Dongara fishing in the A and B zones.
“I am driven to see this industry thrive for my future and my children’s future and I believe as an industry we need to improve the relationship between the commercial sector and public and how the commercial sector is viewed,” Mr Woodcock said.
Deanna Lush from AgCommunicators in Adelaide talked to participants about building trust and social licence to operate and that unity and ‘telling our story’ is extremely important.
Rhys Arangio talked about Austral Fisheries’ carbon neutral program and how they are doing their bit for climate change by reducing, and then offsetting 100% of their company’s greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition, Steve Eayrs, Principal Investigator of the SeSAFE project, introduced the fishers and skippers to the new workplace health and safety online learning system Western Rock Lobster are currently developing and aiming to implement in early 2019.
Mr Taylor said the western rock lobster industry has a reputation for world class leadership which is now being applied through a new online learning management system that will make the western rock lobster industry even safer.
“Our industry is committed to investing in people and there is nothing more important than our fishermen returning home safely to their families,” Mr Taylor said.
Hellene McTaggart and Sue Middleton from Partners in Grain WA (PinG WA) discussed how they work with businesses in the broadacre sector to increase not only skills and knowledge but also raise confidence of individuals as decision makers.
Mr Glass said he is keen on the idea of industry workshops on specialised fields.
“I would be interested to see how well these business development workshops offered by PinG WA can be tailored to fishermen going forward,” Mr Glass said.
Western Rock Lobster is in discussions with PinG WA to see how tailoring the workshops they provide to that of the western rock lobster industry can be a reality in the near future.
The next DECK Program two-day forum will be held in April 2019 and the agenda will be constructed using the feedback received from participants to ensure what is provided remains relevant and of interest to Western Rock Lobster’s members, skippers and fishers.