In July 2019, Tuna Australia appointed Richard Stevens OAM, a government relations and fisheries management consultant, as an independent Chair. We spoke with him about his plans for the role, career experience, and views on the seafood industry.
What attracted you to the role of Tuna Australia Chair?
Two reasons. Firstly, I have been very impressed with the innovative work being undertaken by Tuna Australia, led by David Ellis and the Board, to address some of the operational and other issues in the fishery. Secondly, I very much enjoy chairing fisheries meetings and working to achieve effective and sensible outcomes, particularly those which benefit the health of the key fish stocks, which, in turn, benefit the industry.
What do you hope to achieve as Chair?
I will be looking to ensure meetings are conducted in a professional and disciplined manner, and we seek to progress issues and achieve outcomes in a timely way. At the same time, I aim to ensure that there is effective and thorough discussion of issues important to the Board. Finally, I will be independent and objective, but also add value and challenge, where appropriate, such that we achieve the best outcomes possible.
What experience do you bring to the role?
I have had many years’ experience chairing fisheries-related management advisory committees at commonwealth and state/territory level. I am a past Deputy Chair of the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), and have chaired finance, audit and risk management committees for AFMA, Fisheries Research & Development Corporation, and the North West Hospital and Health Service in Queensland.
You received the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2008. Can you tell us about that?
The medal was awarded in recognition of my contribution to the Australian seafood industry since 1977, particularly for fisheries management. I was very honoured to receive it.
Do you go fishing outside of work? What do you enjoy the most about fishing?
Although I have been out on many commercial fishing vessels over the years, I have never been a practising recreational fisher. But I can certainly appreciate the attraction of fishing to those who are in the industry in terms of the relative freedom it provides in operating your own business, together with the skill and knowledge required to achieve good catches.
What’s your favourite seafood dish?
My favourite seafood dish is not restricted to one—there are so many I love, with spaghetti marinara being right up there, along with linguine.
How do you see the Australian commercial fishing industry in 10 years?
I see the industry continuing to innovate and achieve its full potential, not only at the catching-sector level, but at the post-harvest level. Associated with this, I see industry achieving high-level credibility among the community, government and other stakeholders as a mature, responsible industry sector, supplying high quality seafood to consumers. And, most importantly, as a viable, profitable industry able to conduct its affairs without the need for excessive and costly regulatory controls.
Any final comments?
I am very much looking forward to working with Tuna Australia, listening and learning about the industry, and making a positive contribution to the sometimes challenging issues that inevitably arise.