Learning, adapting and becoming more self-reliant has been the talk of the town in the wake of both Brexit and COVID-19. How might the fishing industry, and more specifically producer organisations (POs) take on this motif?
In this episode of Fathom, we talk to Chief Executive of the Anglo North Irish Fish Producers Organisation (ANIFPO), Alan McCulla (OBE). Alan’s lifetime in the fishing industry has seen him through highs and lows, taken him to fish exhibitions across the Far East, and on biannual trips with fishermen and fisheries scientists, to scope out novel ideas from around the world and exchange knowledge.
We talk about the role of POs in these rapidly changing times and get an insight into ANIFPO, which has gone above and beyond the traditional role of a PO. Alan has been at the forefront of ANIFPO’s proactive, forward-moving spirit: buying factories and developing its own processing capability and marketing arm (Sea Source) for its fishermen. This decision, Alan asserts, is why Northern Irish fleets have been able to get back out to sea during the pandemic.
However, we highlight the need to think specifically, rather than come up with a national model. ‘Everybody has challenges,’ Alan says, ‘whether you’re a 80m pelagic trawler or an under 10m handline fishing for mackerel’. The role of POs is to represent its fishermen and overcome its regional challenges.
In this uplifting and inspiring conversation, we explore Brexit and change more broadly as an opportunity, to use the ingenuity, skill and self-organisation at the heart of the fishing industry.
Alan McCulla, CEO of ANIFPO