By Roy Palmer
Published on Monday, December 14, 2009
Continuing with lessons from the World Seafood Congress, I am going to raise an issue which has been discussed on this web site by many others and that is integrity.
Integrity is judged by our buyers, the general public and the media. It can involve economic issues such as mis-naming seafood, short weighting, short counting, utilizing chemicals to cheat quality or weights, IUU fishing, environmental issues, workers rights, etc.
NFI president John Connelly set the tone regarding Agadir and gave examples in the economic sphere by highlighting profitability from fraud. John also brought into the discussion the issue of trans-shipping products to avoid duties. “There must be two willing partners in fraud,” he commented.
If you were unsure about economic fraud, the presentation from Gabriele Gandini, from Ministero del Lavoro, della Salute e delle Politiche Sociali in Italy, left you in no doubt about the issues. He showed many examples with detailed photographs clearly identifying fraud.
Finally, Lisa Weddig spoke about the main initiatives that NFI are working on to combat these issues through the Better Seafood Board. This is a separately constituted body which operates on three important areas: education, promotion and enforcement. The organization works in a transparent way with the government to create two-way conversations, making intelligence consistent and ensuring those breaching integrity parameters are left in no doubt about the issue.
In Australia, we are looking more at creating standards and following other trades down that path. The premise of this is that if you are up against a standard in a court of law, the onus is on you to prove your innocence. Standards can also be brought into regulations and training competencies fairly simply.
Consumers want what they pay for and they have the right to make informed choices – the industry has to deliver on this.
Lesson Two: The industry can stop negative issues by creating industry standards and regain credibility through education and promotion. This does not necessarily need government regulation but strong willed industry leadership. Naming and shaming people and organizations that put their own industry in jeopardy is an essential tool.