If you hear someone on the Hobart waterfront talking about ‘Tzz-ikk’, they are probably not referring to mosquitos or a fly caught in the electric flycatcher. It’s more likely to be TSIC, or the Tasmanian Seafood Industry Council. This is a very active industry organisation that represents the full range of Tasmanian fishers and producers, from the rock lobstermen to the oyster growers, wild fishery to farmed salmon, abalone divers, seafood processors and more.
Fishing to feed Australia’s enormous appetite for seafood has always been a part of Tasmania’s history. We produce more seafood by value than any other Australian state – a staggering $946 million worth of it, almost all of it exported. The industry employs more than 3,400 people directly and many Tasmanian families can point to three or even four generations of fishermen and women. As an island state, fishing is deeply woven into the fabric of our community and of course wooden boats were the backbone of the industry for many years. Indeed, a small fleet of wooden fishing boats still puts out to sea in some of the wildest and most dangerous waters in the world.
All that goes to explain why there has been a close connection between TSIC and the Australian Wooden Boat Festival over the years. Starting with a small marquee display on Tasmania’s fishing heritage, TSIC’s involvement has steadily grown to include modern fishing practice, marine science and some delightful sessions with Tasmanian chefs, cooking and sampling fresh Tasmanian seafood for the public. In 2019, we saw the largest and most exciting exhibition to date, with literally thousands of people passing through each day, learning more about the history of the Tasmanian industry, how it’s done today and what the future holds in store. Bringing along partners from the University of Tasmania, the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies and the CSIRO Marine Science Labs ensured that the scientific information was accurate, current and well explained.
Festival goers were invited aboard a wooden fishing boat, the Galifrae, to see what conditions are like for the crew of an active crayfishing boat. They could explore the eerie world of AR (augmented reality) to discover the living seabed of Tasmanian waters without even getting their feet wet, then attend a master class with celebrity chef Tetsuya Wakuda to see and taste the creations of one of the world’s best-known and most admired culinary masters. Craypot makers, industry displays and the chance to talk directly to people with a very deep interest in sustainable fishing into the future made up the balance of the exhibition. In a moving ceremony, TSIC officers presided over a re-dedication of the Fisherman’s Memorial on Victoria Dock, a sobering reminder that ‘those who go down to the sea in ships’ don’t always return.
AWBF is honoured to have the Tasmanian Seafood Industry Council as such an active and vital partner in the festival and we look forward to growing the connections between us for many years to come.