How would you describe your role with NAI-BSI?

I am a Director and stockholder of NAI-BSI.  That means ensuring, along with my fellow directors and staff, that NAI-BSI is profitable and sustainable to its stock holders, to its employees and to its supply partners.  While I am engaged in all aspects of NAI business, my particular interest is in lending my expertise to ensure that our suppliers, the fishers and their families also benefit from the activities of NAI-BSI.  This effort requires that the fisheries, on which our fishers depend, are managed sustainably and that the fishers obtain a fair return for catching and supplying fish to our business.  What’s good for the fishers who supply NAI-BSI in Sumbawa and elsewhere is what’s good for our business.

Why have you pivoted from the foundation, non-profit and research world back to a position in industry?

I have always had a foot in the camp of the seafood industry.  I was appointed as the CEO of several industry owned fisheries management companies, at 34. It was then that I realized, after being a government scientist and policy adviser for several years, that effective and sustainable change in fisheries was going to come from the private sector (not government).   Government’s role is important, but is best targeted at setting the rules of the game and leaving the innovation to others, I think.

I put my ideas where my mouth was and built several fisheries management companies for the industry in New Zealand that have proven the test of time.  When not engaged in NAI-BSI business, I am now back in New Zealand advising these companies and the industry as a whole on how to move from having ensured sustainability of fisheries New Zealand to, as we have coined the phrase, “moving beyond sustainability”.  That involves managing the fisheries better to meet the objectives of “ensuring economic, social and cultural wellbeing” enshrined in our law.

My expertise and experience is in designing the policy and law and the organizational structures and capacity to manage fisheries, both within government and in the private sector, with a vision to ensure that fisheries are managed sustainably and responsibly into the future.  After six years in the industry, I found that there was much left to do in redesigning the New Zealand Quota Management System (“QMS”) to enable stakeholders to fully deliver sustainable and responsible fisheries management.  I therefore went back to government as the General Manager of Fisheries Management at the Ministry of Fisheries in 2000.  There I was given the responsibility for leading an organizational change program aimed at moving the New Zealand rights based system of management from single stock management to multispecies management and increasing opportunities for stakeholders to engage in management of those rights.  My first step on that pathway involved leading a project which expanded the number of fisheries managed under the QMS in New Zealand from just over 200 to over 600 stocks.  I led that project as well as an organizational redesign initiative aimed at supporting rights-holder led engagement in fisheries.

In 2005, at the end of five years at the Ministry of Fisheries in New Zealand, I was asked by our Minister to contribute to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s fisheries response to the 2004 tsunami that devastated fishing communities throughout South East Asia.  After two years in this role I moved on to the World Bank.  In these roles, over the last 10 or so years, I have contributed to and led reform and investment programs across Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific.  I still consult on government and international fisheries reform and am, for example, the lead technical advisor to a World Bank advisory program on fisheries to the Government of Oman.

After 30 years working on fisheries management, at the national and international level, and in government and the private sector, I know from experience that seafood industry leadership is needed to deliver sustainable fisheries and socially responsible seafood harvesting.   Industry is not just a party to be consulted on, in these matters or an observer who buys fish, but can and should be the engine room to deliver those objectives.  Paradoxically, I see the role of Industry as being more important in emerging economies than in developed, strong rule of law countries.   This is because developing economies can little afford to subsidize management of the marine environment from other parts of the economy and often have limited capacity to regulate and enforce fisheries rules.   I believe it is not only up to the private sector to step into this role, and provide the sustainable financing needed to effectively manage fisheries into the future, but it is also in the private sector’s best interest to do so.  This is why the integration of the value chain activities with the management of fisheries, as being implemented under the NAI-BSI model, is so important.

Was there a specific project in your career that really validated the integrated fisheries management model or, more broadly, the effectiveness of rights based fishery management?

I have led many projects establishing integrated management approaches linking industry to fisheries management but one in particular has validated this approach.  I am proud to have contributed significantly to the development of the New Zealand Quota Management System, and specifically in leading a project to expand the number of fisheries encompassed within that system.   That work increased the asset value (or natural capital value) of New Zealand’s fisheries to over NZ$4 billion.  Perhaps more importantly to me, however, is that it also contributed significantly to realizing the New Zealand Government’s commitments to Maori, New Zealand’s indigenous people, who were allocated 20% of those assets in settlement of historical grievances arising from loss of their rights to fisheries.  These quota assets were divided amongst 57 tribal entities (or iwi) to the potential benefit of over 600,000 Maori people.

The New Zealand fisheries settlement to Maori was not just important to New Zealand but is globally significant, in that the process of settlement and the currency of that settlement, being quota known elsewhere as catch shares, has changed the way Maori have engaged in fisheries.  Instead of sharing in catch, Maori now share in the economic value realizable from fisheries.  This change is a significant and enduring achievement that sets a benchmark for the rest of the world. It is an integrated approach to fisheries management whereby iwi (Maori tribal groups) are not just involved in the harvesting and management of fisheries but also in the commercial use of those fisheries through the value chain.  The behavioral shift demonstrates the common value placed on the natural asset, as something worth protecting by the users, and something that rewards the owners of that asset for careful and profitable management of it.   It is a successful model of integrated management we are leveraging for application in Indonesia.   In this respect, the approach taken in New Zealand and being adapted by NAI-BSI fits well with the Government of Indonesia’s aspirations to better empower small boat Indonesian fishers in such activities.  It is my anticipation that the NAI-BSI model will contribute significantly to the Government’s objectives and will show how a responsible private sector actor, namely NAI-BSI, can lead that process.

Is the integrated fisheries management model suitable for both large scale commercial fisheries and artisanal fisheries?

Yes the model of integrating fisheries management with harvesting and value chain operations through a commercial structure has proven successful at all scales of fishing.   It is no mistake that large seafood companies seek to integrate fish supply, and its management, with the management of fish through the value chain.  After all, without a sustainable supply they have no business.   Examples of such large scale approaches are many (such as with New Zealand fisheries management companies and Japanese cooperatives) and also encompass some effective public private partnership examples (such as with the Sealord engagement to develop offshore fisheries in Namibia).  It is also a model that can also be found in developing country fisheries at a community and local fisheries level.  Examples are wide ranging and include fisheries cooperatives in Mexico and Chile in South America, in the Senegalese deep water shrimp fishery cooperative in Africa, as well as some community based initiatives in Bangladesh.

Whether large or small, what all these examples have in common is that the harvesting and management of the fishery is explicitly linked to the commercial value chain.  In this way the effective management of fisheries and the fishers becomes part of the value proposition for investment and development.

What do you see as the three biggest challenges to sustainable fishery development in Indonesia?

There is no formulaic way to develop fisheries sustainably and economically.   Over time, Indonesia, like all countries will need to change the way fishers operate from being reliant on catching fish to being involved in the integrated economic business of a fishery where the best reward is not to catch more fish but to maximize the economic returns available from sustainable catch and its sale through the value chain.  This change will take time but has two immediate challenges i) gaining political and community buy -in to support such change; ii) establishing the legal and policy environment to enable such change.  The integrated management model being developed by NAI-BSI is an opportunity to demonstrate this approach for wider application.  It is designed to reward fishers economically and gain their buy in as well as demonstrate to government how an integrated system can work to benefit the fishers and the investors fairly.

Do you believe reliable traceability data will ultimately drive product value in the market or is its primary value informing effective fisheries management decisions? (Alternative: What is the primary value of reliable traceability data?)

Traceability is the seafood industry’s friend.  Being able to demonstrate not only where a fish was caught, and by whom, but also how it is looked after as it travels to a consumer through the value chain is the best way of showing our consumers how we are acting sustainably and in a socially responsible way.  It is our defense against criticism and misinformation.  Traceability itself does not however drive product value, although it is increasingly a condition of market access.  We still have to do the job of managing the fishery sustainably and fairly.  Traceability enables us to demonstrate transparently to others how we perform.