Meet a member – Simon Boag

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Simon Boag has a long career within the fishing industry, commencing as a fleet and vessel manager operating vessels in New Zealand, Argentina, Antarctica and Australia. He is currently a consultant to the South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association (SETFIA) which represents stakeholders from Australia’s largest finfish fishery.
Simon grew up in Melbourne and after completing an undergrad science degree at Melbourne Uni and some post Grad in fisheries at the AMC in Launceston he moved to New Zealand to work for the Sealord Group.  “I am forever grateful to Sealord for their support of a Melbourne Business School MBA which I finished in 2011.  My travels with Sealord over 14 years saw me live in Nelson and Dunedin and even spend a few years in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  I now run a consulting company and work for several industry associations including SETFIA,” Simon said.

The South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association (SETFIA) was incorporated 29 years ago and represents fishers, quota owners and wholesalers with an interest in the Commonwealth Trawl Sector, colloquially the South-East Trawl.  About 80% of these groups by volume are members through voluntary membership.

“I am only the 2nd Executive Office with my predecessor Gail Richie having worked tirelessly for more than 20 years.  Gail and a series of Directors rotating through the Board did the heavy lifting moving through issues like the establishment of the South-East marine parks, the cessation of orange roughy fishing, the closure of trawl grounds deeper than 700m, a structural adjustment that saw 2/3rds of vessels removed and the collapse of eastern gemfish and blue warehouse,” Simon said.

Simon believes in the food industry and thinks that there is something noble about feeding people.  “The thing I enjoy most is that I know the people I work for.  I know how hard they work and see myself as the thin line between their toil and an increasing number of eNGOs who use the plight of international fisheries as cause to shut down the very small Australian industry.  SETFIA’s longstanding noble purpose is, “Sustainable fishing practices protect our future” and I am most proud of the work that my members have toward this.  Reporting has improved, seabird interactions are down more than 90% and the data that runs the fishery is better,” Simon said.

In spite of these achievements, improved management and improved stock status, the wildcatch fishing industry is faced with two significant challenges.

“Marine parks, fishery closures and structural adjustment that see the South-East Trawl fishery only now touch 6% of the fishable grounds, excellent science and assessment and a reduced number of interactions with threatened species should have seen a reduction in the overall level of management and costs levied on industry.  However, this has not been the case and all of the associations that I am engaged by are working for this recognition,” Simon said.

“The second challenge is protecting the brand that is local Australian fish.  The failure by State regulators to recognise the fish naming standard is killing our industry.  Flathead is the most significant stock in the South-East Trawl but competes now with an unrelated fish from South America.

“SETFIA believes in a united seafood industry and support SIA in their work on labelling.”