2008 Annual General Meeting
Well, 2008 has come and is almost gone, and what a rollercoaster ride it has been!
The year started off quite nicely with excellent prices, and then they just got better. When we all expected the squid to disappear, and indeed thought it had gone, it came back with a vengeance and just kept on biting!
Then came the biggest and fastest price drop I have ever seen. This was a result of a number of factors but I feel largely that a global recession played the major part in this collapse.
Despite the extra closed seasons and the fact that vessels never went to sea due to a lack of squid and poor prices in the latter half of the season (14 weeks less fishing than last year!), we seem to have caught more than last year. This can only be seen as a positive sign as to the state of the resource that we have been targeting for over 20 years.
I would like to quote Jim,”Once again we are plagued by the dreaded mathematical model and there are proposals afoot which threaten every aspect of the industry. Fortunately this proposal has received only limited support. One of the major problems that I have in accepting the results of this particular mathematical model is the known unreliability of the input data.”
It does however seem that there is light at the end of the tunnel. MCM have uncovered a large number of inconsistencies in the data and a task group was formed to try and sort out the problem. I would like to applaud MCM in this regard as many of the problems occurred in the capturing of the data, and in order to save face they could easily have swept this under the carpet!
Greg, Richard and myself took part in this data cleaning process and it was done in a great spirit of cooperation, with everyone trying their best to improve the situation. Unfortunately when we thought we had a possible solution it was discovered that the problems were worse than we thought. MCM are in the process of employing 2 people to re-input all the data, an estimated 71,000 data points!
The downside to this is that there is no new information available to the scientific working group and they must therefore adopt a precautionary approach. This means we may well be looking at another 11 weeks closed season next year. We can only hope that at the end of this whole exercise the mathematical models will reflect a true state of our resource and the effort we are exerting on it. Other efforts are also taking place in order to provide the scientific working group with other means of evaluating the resource.
Again, I cannot over-emphasize the importance of correctly completing your catch returns.
I would like to quote my last report:
“I feel that next year’s committee needs to make it a priority to see that an operations manual for the industry be implemented. They also need to see to it that the department uses more direct methods of stock assessment as is done in other sectors. Of great concern to me is the lack of squid scientists at scientific working group meetings, this need to be addressed as a matter of utmost urgency.”
Great steps have been taken in all of the above and I really feel we are well on the way to achieving those objectives. We have definitely turned a corner and there is a great new spirit of co-operation between SASMIA and MCM scientists.
The absence of Section 21 transfers has been a major stumbling block for those who are trying to consolidate and also for those wishing to extend there enterprises. In some cases this has even hampered the expansion of meaningful transformation within the industry.
It has also made it difficult for industry to achieve its objectives as set out in the squid policy document.
We have been informed that the new revised policy document for Section 21 transfers should be out soon.
In conclusion I would like to thank the committee for their support and in particular Juanita, Greg, Richard, Tony and Jim. SASMIA at present enjoys the support of a vast majority (95%) of the industry. It is only with this kind of support that we can retain our credibility with the Department and other bodies, thereby promoting the best interests of the industry.