UK seafood sector mourns loss of Jon Harman

Published on
April 19, 2017

Well-known seafood industry veteran Jon Harman died this week, following a short illness.

During the course of his career, Harman worked in the pelagic, whitefish, shellfish and salmon sectors, in production, processing and governance. He was a former chief executive of Seafood Scotland and Director of the U.K. Seafish Industry Authority. In this former role he introduced the concept of ‘care of the catch’ and weighing at sea to fishermen, which resulted in improved quality and price on landing. His most recent post was in charge of trade relations in Northern Europe for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI), working alongside Lotus PR.

Rebecca Wilson, director of ASMI Northern Europe praised Harman’s work for the organization.

“With his extensive seafood experience we were proud to have Jon Harman as our trade ambassador. His expertise and wide industry network was highly valued by us and everyone in the Alaska seafood industry.”

According to others who knew him, he was respected as a man who truly loved his work, which he undertook with genuine passion and energy. Nigel Edwards, the technical and corporate social responsibility director for Icelandic Seachill, was deeply sorry to hear about the loss of Harman.

“He was literally a shepherd of our flock and a great mentor to me. He cared with a passion about the industry and looked out for the people who shared his vision of sustainability and integrity for the whole sector. He was great at bringing people together collaboratively,” he said.

In his 12 years at Seafish, Harman was behind a plethora of new ideas and initiatives to address problems in the seafood industry, which are now well established in the Seafish portfolio of products and services and continue to provide benefit to the whole supply chain. He came up with ideas as diverse as the globally respected Common Language Group and the Seafish Responsible Fishing Scheme (RFS). The RFS was born when Harman learnt of fishermen’s desire to be recognized for what they did.  He also helped to improve the way Seafish engages with industry through the establishment of a regional delivery model and the setting up of sector panels.   

Another bright idea for which he is remembered is the setting up of a network of fisheries economists, business and industry analysts (UKFEN), members of which contribute to the economic and business research and analysis required to inform key policy and business decisions affecting the U.K. seafood industry. The network now has 80 members and a six-year track record of effective networking, collaborative working and establishing best practice

The deep sense of loss amongst those who knew Harman was summed up by Libby Woodhatch, head of advocacy for Seafish. 

“I have worked with Jon Harman for the last 14 years, both in my role as CEO at Seafood Scotland and latterly at Seafish,” Woodhatch said. “He always thought outside the box and pushed the boundaries, generating ideas that at first seemed impossible or madcap, but which resulted in some ground-breaking initiatives that have made a real and lasting difference to industry. He never sat still and in his final days was still providing great mentoring support to me. He will be sorely missed, but leaves behind him a huge legacy.”

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