President’s Report AGM 2019

I reflect back on my first 12 months as President of this Council with a blend of satisfaction and frustration.

Satisfaction because we do a pretty fine job of a lot of things.

We’ve continued to set the bar high with our fisheries management and advocacy work. The Fisheries Management Standing Committee chaired by Lewis Avenell have offered direction and mandate to the experienced and reliable team of contractors that serve us so well. Thank you to John Holdsworth who has been such a stable and constant source of practical and insightful advice. Together with Trish Rea and Josh Barclay the NZSFC are engaged and participating in all relevant fisheries management processes. I am proud of the powerful and relevant submissions that the Council is making. Let’s hope that those advising the Minister are paying attention.   

We celebrate the work undertaken by the LegaSea team to help elevate public awareness of the work that needs to be done to rebuild our fisheries and also the efforts to inspire people and businesses to contribute to this work. Thank you to Sam Woolford for your deeply committed leadership of the LegaSea team of Trish Rea, Si Yates, Benn Winlove, Pieter Battaerd, Angela Janse Van Rensburg, Louise O’Sullivan, Scott Cushman, Brie Handford and Jess Beetham. The steady growth in LegaSea Legends is testament to your authenticity team.

I take this opportunity to acknowledge both the long standing Platinum and Gold Partners and the new. Your commitment to stand by this Council year after year is humbling. Whilst your financial support is vital, your endorsement of the work we do means so much.  

It has been so pleasing to see the mind-set shift in people’s attitudes towards full utilisation and respect for the fish we take. The Kai Ika project being trialled through the Outboard Boating Club of Auckland and the Papatuanuku Kokiri marae at Mangere sees teams of people combining to deliver over 40,000 kilograms of heads and frames to people who truly appreciate this healthy food. Thank you to the Bobby Stafford Bush Foundation for your generous support that has allowed us to purchase a 3-tonne refrigerated truck this year, Scott Seafood in Henderson for your tremendous gifts of fish, and now thanks to the ‘Working together More Fund’, an expansion into Wellington based around the leadership of the Mana Cruising Club. Nothing more powerful than a good idea whose time has come.

Similarly, the Fishcare project has taken the lead on work required to shift people’s attitudes and behaviours with best practice for handling the fish we keep and those that we release. More good work made possible by a growing family of funders and partners.

The New Zealand Sport Fishing Council and our subsidiary LegaSea have every reason to be proud of this leadership work and the alignment with other organisations achieved. It is all about our values and the principles and policy made possible by being a Council of like-minded people.

Very little of the work we do in Fisheries management and LegaSea would be possible without the passion, enthusiasm, general weirdness (his own words) and resources of one Scott Macindoe;  The general roustabout who continues to passionately and enthusiastically fill any gap that needs filling not only in FM, LegaSea but the council in general.

This year we publish the inaugural Weigh Masters Handbook. Thank you to Mark Hemingway, Pete Saul, Helen Pastor and all those that provided content for this milestone piece of work for the Council.

We also went live with our new website. A much cleaner presentation that responds to the device that you’re viewing it on incorporating some handy features that help you not only find your local club(s) but message them directly as well. Now that we have a powerful, versatile Content Management System (CMS) you can expect our website to become ever more useful and rich in relevant reference material and tools.  

We are about to commit to new software for running the Nationals. Some will be aware of the challenges we had from this year’s Nationals with the system locking up on us and with several functions not working consistently. We’ve completed the ‘requirements collection process’ and are just wrapping up the procurement phase. We are on target for having the new system online for next year’s Nationals.

This is about where it gets frustrating. We are doing a good job in the fisheries management space (some would argue that we could be doing better which is another frustration in itself) with a solid team of  contractors coupled with some very committed volunteers with the passion and ability to make their time and resources available for doing this work to a high standard.

Conversely, for the development of the Sport of Fishing and the club support side of our business we have Helen and a team of volunteer Board Members who have day jobs, businesses, family and responsibilities with their home clubs and, of course, the urge to go fishing to balance. Needless to say, getting stuff done and making meaningful progress with club or Sport of Fishing initiatives is frustratingly slow and laboured.

We have many opportunities to do a better job here as well as clubs questioning what value the Council provides despite the huge amount of work we do in the fisheries management area, with member benefits like Go Fuel, Club Marine, the Nationals tournament, awards, trophies, record keeping, affiliation/visitation, courtesy weigh benefits among others.  We can do more and I welcome the challenge.

We need strategy coupled with resourcing and funding to lift our game in these areas and truly deliver value and relevance.

This is why we’ve decided to take the plunge and commence the recruitment process for a CEO. Without this corner stone resource/leadership, I fear we could still be here in 10 years’ time with approximately 55 members clubs, representing 34,000 members, many of whom are still unclear what they get for their $9 per member per annum affiliation and $2 donation to the New Zealand Marine Research Foundation.

This time next year I’m expecting to report back on a year of having a CEO in place and presenting our strategy for how we will deliver more value back to our member clubs, what we’ve already started and what still needs funding.

So, here’s to the year that was and the exciting changes for the year ahead. Thank you for your support and encouragement.

Bob Gutsell