This week I attended the Seafood Directions 2019 conference n Melbourne.
Day 1 kicked off with the opening of the conference given by the Assistance Minister for Forestry and Fisheries - Jonathon Duniam, a proud Tasmanian who noted that Tasmania provided 1/4 of all seafood-related jobs in Australia. He also questioned whether rugby was a really a sport - which made me groan, I am a proud Scotland fan who is looking forward to the Scotland-Japan match in the Rugby World Cup at the weekend!
The keynote was given by David Platt, Director of Resilient Futures and author of several books including "Disrupted: Strategy for Exponential Change" and The Disruption Readiness Test". He gave a fascinating keynote, telling delegates that a reset was required in terms of mindset and skillset if the industry is to embrace and leverage disruption (and make change). He pointed out that there were several forms of disruption, including: digital, physical, business models, people, governance, economic, social and environmental. I got very excited at this point thinking about potential future research projects relating to disruption and societal support for the seafood industry.
Next up was the panel session on economic and social contributions, which I participated in as a panel member. Along with colleagues Kirsten Abernethy and Jacqui Schirmer, who talked about studies on industry contributions in Victoria and regional wellbeing more generally, I presented the findings from the recent Blue Governance Lab project on the 'Determinants of socially supported fisheries and aquaculture in Australia'. I quickly detailed the 16 determinants of societal support - and that 5 of them were directly relevant to contributions studies: demonstration of alignment with social norms, demonstration of a shared vision, demonstration of generation and distribution of benefits, connectedness to community and demonstration of responsible and sustainable practice. I explained to the session attendees that contributions studies had to be broader than just jobs and contributions to the economy. Luckily, that was the argument made by all members of the panel!
Along came lunch - or in my case, didn't. The food was battered fish and chips and as a member of the gluten-free brigade (not by choice), I couldn't eat it. So, I sacked off the afternoon and went on a search for alternative food.
Day 2 launched straight into sessions, no keynote. I attended the 'Industry' session which started off with a talk about storytelling by the food writer Richard Cornish. In the talk he held up FISH magazine and referred directly to an article which had been published on the determinants study I referred to earlier. I got a bit excited, but then realised that he was holding it up as an example of good research which had been badly communicated. If only he had seen earlier versions of the article!! This really lit a fire under me as I realised it was time to get my #scicomm on.
In the afternoon I attended the session on 'Modern slavery' - which I was surprised to discover is still quite prevalent - over 40 million people are in modern slavery globally! Interestingly, the concept of modern slavery is really relevant to a paper I am working on at the moment which is looking at the 'social stuff' in aquaculture certification. The session really gave me a lot to think about!
So, all in all, I think I'm glad I attended the conference. However, I would probably think twice in the future. It was very expensive and I'm not sure I got my money's worth. I definitely didn't get my food's worth!