A plan for the fu­ture of the fish­eries

The Dominion Post - - Career Market -

TONY CRAIG lives by the motto ‘‘you CAN teach an old dog new tricks’’.

With ex­pe­ri­ence in busi­ness in­no­va­tion and man­age­ment in the pri­mary sec­tor, he has spent the last four years work­ing as a sus­tain­abil­ity ad­viser in his own busi­ness, Wellington sus­tain­abil­ity con­sul­tancy Terra Moana.

The long-time recre­ational fish­er­man is also be­hind the Fish4All app de­signed to help gather the data needed to bet­ter man­age recre­ational fish­eries.

The cre­ation of the re­cently launched app and his jour­ney into sus­tain­abil­ity stems from Craig’s pas­sion for healthy en­vi­ron­ments.

As a re­sult, through Terra Moana, Craig and his busi­ness part­ner Kather­ine Short spe­cialise in help­ing busi­ness do bet­ter sus­tain­abil­ity-wise, with a strong fo­cus on the re­la­tion­ship be­tween land and marine sys­tems.

‘‘We are com­mit­ted to sup­port­ing the cre­ation of a dif­fer­ent, bet­ter, more eth­i­cal world where busi­ness makes a mean­ing­ful con­tri­bu­tion to the health of Planet Earth, na­ture and their com­mu­ni­ties,’’ says Craig.

One of their main clients is Moana NZ (for­merly Aotearoa Fish­eries, the largest Maori-owned fish­eries com­pany in New Zealand), in which they sup­port the com­pany’s sus­tain­abil­ity jour­ney to max­imise all the nat­u­ral cap­i­tal (so­cial, eco­log­i­cal, cul­tural and eco­nomic) for Maori.

That has in­cluded fa­cil­i­tat­ing an Ecosys­tem Ser­vices Re­view process for the com­pany, iden­ti­fy­ing is­sues fac­ing pro­duc­tion of wild paua in the marine en­vi­ron­ment. This has en­abled the com­pany to pri­ori­tise its ecosys­tem man­age­ment and in­vest­ment into ar­eas where it is most de­pen­dent and/or has the most im­pact.

‘‘We are now ad­vis­ing them on so­cial li­cence-to-op­er­ate stan­dards. We are devel­op­ing a re­spon­si­ble fisher’s aware­ness pro­gramme, sup­port­ing their in­te­grated cor­po­rate re­port­ing, and deep­en­ing com­mu­nity en­gage­ment on land and coasts, which is all fun­da­men­tally dif­fer­ent from what in­dus­try has done in the last nearly 40 years.’’

Craig’s own ex­pe­ri­ences have also in­flu­enced his drive to change be­hav­iours.

‘‘Grow­ing up, I’ve fished on rivers white­bait­ing with my Dad, I’ve watched the changes that have oc­curred over the years, the wa­ter qual­ity, clar­ity, all of those things, and how poor prac­tices can im­pact on our river sys­tems and the marine en­vi­ron­ment.

‘‘It’s so easy for peo­ple to as­sume the ocean is big enough, the ‘we’ll just dump stuff out there’ at­ti­tude. But I’ve seen it first-hand as a fisher, our en­vi­ron­ment is chang­ing, there’s no ques­tion about it.

‘‘The nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment I’ve grown up in has been fan­tas­tic, the abil­ity to catch a feed of fish or paua when I want to has been a priv­i­lege, but you can’t take that for granted any­more.

‘‘I look into my grand­chil­dren’s eyes and I think about what it is they will have in the fu­ture and what I can do to make sure that be­comes a re­al­ity. I want them to have that same free­dom and those same ex­pe­ri­ences I have had.’’

Most of Craig’s days are spent look­ing at what changes need to be made in busi­nesses, in re­gards to their so­cial li­cence to op­er­ate, and that is usu­ally about new ini­tia­tives and mar­ket chal­lenges go­ing for­ward.

‘‘For me it’s very much about demon­strat­ing daily that old dogs can learn new tricks and hav­ing to ex­plain to peo­ple, in­clud­ing many old dogs, why things are the way they are, where things are go­ing in the fu­ture, why they need to get on board and what value it is to them.

‘‘That’s not an easy thing to do – a lot of peo­ple are re­sis­tant to change, and the older you get the less open you are to change, par­tic­u­larly tech­nol­ogy ad­vance­ment.’’

But Craig says those hur­dles can be over­come.

‘‘One of the best things you can do is use your chil­dren and grand­chil­dren to keep you up to speed with tech­no­log­i­cal changes, com­mu­ni­cate in the way that they com­mu­ni­cate.’’

That line of think­ing prompted Craig, a grand­fa­ther him­self, to cre­ate the Fish4All App, which al­lows recre­ational fish­er­men to record where, when and how many fish they catch, cre­at­ing a greater in­sight into New Zealand’s fish stocks.

‘‘It’s a tool to en­hance the recre­ational fish­ing ex­pe­ri­ence now and in the fu­ture, to bet­ter un­der­stand recre­ational in­ter­ests in key in­shore shared fish­ery stocks and help self-fund recre­ational rep­re­sen­ta­tion,’’ Craig ex­plains.

De­spite the app’s ben­e­fits, he talks of the clas­sic chal­lenge of re­sis­tance when it was be­ing de­vel­oped.

‘‘A lot of fish­er­men we spoke to out there, their age bracket was such that you could see their eyes glaze over when we talked about tech­nol­ogy, when in fact it’s no dif­fer­ent from push­ing but­tons on your TV re­mote!’’

Yet the ‘‘so­cial good’’ of the app is see­ing it take off.

‘‘As peo­ple be­gin to see what it can de­liver in ben­e­fits, it’s gain­ing mo­men­tum – it’s there for the sec­tor and for the in­di­vid­ual who can get up­dates and in­for­ma­tion on what’s hap­pen­ing around com­pe­ti­tions, within fish­ing clubs.

‘‘Peo­ple have felt threat­ened be­cause gen­er­ally, in­for­ma­tion is used against you, but once peo­ple see that pro­vid­ing in­for­ma­tion is an op­por­tu­nity and not a threat, they will be­come more en­gaged with it.’’

Craig has plenty of busi­ness nous to call on, hav­ing held busi­ness roles with ma­jor fish­ing in­dus­try bod­ies in the past.

Born in Wark­worth and brought up in the Hawke’s Bay and later Wairarapa, he started out work­ing as a stock and sta­tion agent in Master­ton.

He then moved on to New Zealand Post, but af­ter be­com­ing dis­heart­ened with pro­cesses within the public sec­tor he changed course.

‘‘I got into the pri­vate sec­tor, into the seafood in­dus­try through a fam­ily con­tact, man­ag­ing a small op­er­a­tion at Ngawi, Cape Pal­liser.’’

Craig knew the area well – his grand­fa­ther built a batch at Cape Pal­liser and he had spent much of his child­hood there.

‘‘It was where we’d al­ways hol­i­day, we’d fish off the beach, we dived, and when we were old enough we’d go out on the boat. I’ve al­ways been recre­ational fish­ing, I love it.’’

Less than four years later he was head­hunted to be­come chief ex­ec­u­tive of the New Zealand Fed­er­a­tion of Com­mer­cial Fish­er­men, fol­lowed by a stint as busi­ness pol­icy man­ager of Seafood New Zealand.

He then took on the foun­da­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive role of FishServe, a com­pany that de­liv­ers statu­tory ad­min­is­tra­tive and reg­istry ser­vice on con­tract to the gov­ern­ment.

‘‘Con­vinc­ing the in­dus­try and lead­ing the ini­tial charge to es­tab­lish FishServe is a ca­reer high­light.

‘‘It’s an or­gan­i­sa­tion that suc­cess­fully de­signed and built new sys­tems to ad­min­is­ter the Quota Man­age­ment Sys­tem un­der con­tract to the gov­ern­ment for a third of pre­dicted costs and which pro­vides sub­stan­tially im­proved ser­vices to both gov­ern­ment and in­dus­try at a 10th of the orig­i­nally es­ti­mated cost.’’

His last role be­fore form­ing his own com­pany, Terra Moana, was as busi­ness in­no­va­tion and quota man­ager at the former Aotearoa Fish­eries (now Moana New Zealand).

‘‘That was an­other key achieve­ment, be­ing part of the team that over­saw the pre­lim­i­nary years of devel­op­ment and growth of Aotearoa Fish­eries Lim­ited, the wholly owned Maori fish­ing com­pany, and in later years ad­vis­ing on its strate­gic sus­tain­abil­ity jour­ney, cor­po­rate re­port­ing and so­cial li­cence to op­er­ate re­quire­ments both now and into the fu­ture.’’

In fact within all of the var­i­ous po­si­tions he’s held, he views his 30-year con­tri­bu­tion to the pol­icy debate on New Zealand’s world lead­ing Quota Man­age­ment Sys­tem, fish­ing in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tive frame­works and in­no­va­tive fish­eries man­age­ment ap­proaches as ma­jor achieve­ments too.

Not to men­tion set­ting up Terra Moana to pro­vide a more open per­spec­tive on en­vi­ron­men­tal con­sid­er­a­tion within fish­eries man­age­ment, wider marine man­age­ment (ecosys­tem based) and the role of cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and mar­ket forces in in­cen­tivis­ing be­havioural change.

‘‘It is all about com­ing up with so­lu­tions, sus­tain­able best prac­tices for busi­nesses, sim­ply do­ing the right thing, and it’s a good feel­ing com­ing to work to fo­cus on that each day.

‘‘I’m try­ing to do my lit­tle bit, and if ev­ery­one did that we’d prob­a­bly be a hell of a lot bet­ter off. You al­ways think about your sphere of in­flu­ence – we’re not that big in the over­all scheme of things, but we be­lieve in what we’re do­ing, we’re play­ing our part and do­ing as much as we can.’’

Out­side of work, he’s now teach­ing his grand­chil­dren to fish the waters he fished as a young­ster.

‘‘I still have a boat, I love it, I have al­ways had a view that I only fish for fresh, not for freez­ing, and as ev­ery fish­er­man knows, a bad day in the wa­ter is bet­ter than a good day at work!’’

Fish sus­tain­abil­ity spe­cial­ist Tony Craig with some bluenose from the trawlers at the Wellington wharves. Pho­tos: JOHN NICHOLSON/FAIR­FAX NZ

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