About seafood champions and NZ's terrible hate crime / by Francisco Blaha

Is always going to be hard to write about anything from NZ after what happened of Friday (I would not believe you are reading this blog and don't know about it)… I’m not will even pretend to be a good enough writer to comment on that terrorism act that took place here. 

in honour and memory of the dead at the terrorist attack in Christchurch 15/3

in honour and memory of the dead at the terrorist attack in Christchurch 15/3

Normally only during elections being an immigrant is forced upon me as part of my NZ identity, but I couldn’t feel too separated, I did my citizenship ceremony in a sea of colours and diversity, yet it seems only superficial now. Friday show us how different is life for others.  

I’m have mostly Eastern European background so is relatively easy to “fit in”, but I need only to travel with my Pacific Island friends to know how racism works… how that sense of “what you want here?” works, even if colonisers are the ones that came this way. 

And while is total cliché, every time I worked in Muslim country I was treated with outmost respect and hospitality… yes of course there are hard to swallow aspects to their set believes, but I can say that about ALL religions,… and trying to dominate each other ain’t never gonna be the solutions to any ‘perceived problem” what ever that may be.

And particularly in NZ, the youngest populated landmass on earth… we all came from somewhere else… from first Maori Waka to the guys that getting of the plane right now… we came wanting a better life… 

Yeap there has been plenty of strife during the colonisation, no doubt… but also a general willingness to amend wrongs and to live peacefully… That feeling was shattered to the core on Friday.

And a my friend Russel Brown eloquently wrote: Perhaps, apart from having the stricter gun laws in place, nothing could have been done to prevent this mass murder. One of the problems with even identifying a likely far-right terrorist is simply picking out his hate rhetoric from the background din of bigotry. They can, to some extent, hide in plain sightBut no more. This must end here. These ideas need to be called out and, where necessary, drawn to the attention of police. Politicians need to stop using bigotry as a lever, media organisations need to stop giving it air. Intelligence agencies must look where they, unaccountably, have not been looking. We may need to talk to our own family members about what they’re reading. We can’t change what happened on Friday, but we can do everything to prevent it happening again.

I soo do hope we can do that…


With this background, is really hard to move on and celebrate something so superficial as being confirmed as finalist at the SeaWeb organised Seafood Champion Awards for 2019, but life has to go on… otherwise they hate and its crime win the day.

The Seafood Champion Awards seek to inspire and catalyze change by providing a platform to recognize those who are committed to overcoming obstacles, seeking novel solutions and fostering strategic partnerships to advance seafood sustainability.

Some very kind souls did nominated me, and obviously they must have done a good job as the selection panel chose me, along a very amazing group of companies, NGOs and people representing their institutions. To be totally honest, is pretty sobering to be considered at that level…. Particularly because, as usual, I’m the only one self employed (as I I don't represent any organisations other than just me), which is quite “out there”. I’m the fisheries equivalent of a freelance handyman or plumber you call in when something is not working, hence to be nominated with the equivalent of construction companies is really humbling. 

So I’m totally thankful to those that nominated me, yet I would not be able to even be considered if it wasn't for those institutions that trust me to the their work, and reality is the while the institutions hire me, the trust comes from the people that work there… I have to totally acknowledge FFA and NZMFAT for the last few years that provided me with the bulk of my works and their support is awesome, then FAO, SPC, PEW, Oceanmind, WWF, SIPPO and the rest… all very great institutions with great people.

But fundamentally, I wouldn’t be here… in fact none of us would (and I mean all of those that are nominated, elected, contracted me, plus the rest of the finalists, plus whoever wins and whoever is there applauding)… if it wasn't for the work of all fishers, observers and fisheries officers on boats and wharves worldwide.

I’m so grateful to those that I work with, that listen to me, laugh with me and trust me… and is the biggest unfairness that none of them would ever be ever nominated… even is the are the real champions in the seafood world.