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The seafood industry is in a buoyant mood on the eve of its annual conference in Wellington.

This year’s theme is Oceans of Innovation – enhancing a world class fishery, and looks to the industry driving further change in the coming decade.

Keynote speakers are scientist and inventor Sir Ray Avery and Alex Olsen, head of sustainability at the Danish seafood company Espersen.

Enhancing the reputation and value of New Zealand seafood is the aim of an OpenSeas programme to be launched on the day.

That is part of a wider session on opening our international markets that will include an Australian view from Coles head of responsible sourcing and quality James Whittaker; Marine Stewardship Council Oceania director Anne Gabriel on the power of certification;  Ministry for Primary Industries deputy director-general policy and trade Deborah Roche on new market opportunities and an always lively economic update from ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie.

Plant & Food Research science group leader Dr Susan Marshall will cover world leading innovation in fish harvesting and value and Iain Hosie will detail an extraordinary use developed for hoki skins.

The healthy state of New Zealand fish stocks will be updated by MPI manager fisheries science Dr Shelton Harley.

The collaborative work being undertaken to ensure harvesting seafood does not come at a cost to endangered species will be covered by Department of Conservation director-general Lou Sanson and consultant Graham Parker.

An enhancing reputation and public trust session will showcase the Promise campaign that was launched earlier this month, based on the men and women of the industry.

The approach was born out of concern about ongoing negative reporting of issues such as alleged overfishing, bycatch, discards, sustainability and endangered species that were impacting on the industry’s reputation, despite significant improvements made.

We know our fisheries are well regarded internationally and quota systems have been at the heart of building sustainable fisheries. The science confirms this.

But we haven’t always been able to get this message across.

The campaign is a promise to the people of New Zealand that we will do the right thing and we are committed to improving our performance.

Videos shot across the country are showing the importance of seafood to local economies, extending far beyond catching and processing to retailing and all the related support industries such as ship building and engineering. And fish ‘n’ chips remain the country’s number one takeaway.

As Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese says: “We are people of the sea.”

The huge diversity of that fishing tradition has been on show in the 13-part Ocean Bounty television series on TV3.

Its producer, Gone Fishin veteran Graeme Sinclair, will show highlights and talk about the show’s challenges, particularly in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.

Planning for a second series to be shown next year is under way.

A BERL survey to be released during the conference will show just how great seafood's economic contribution is as export revenues nudge towards $2 billion annually.

The conference will conclude with political commentator Bill Ralston’s bottom lines on the looming general election, followed by the evening cocktail function and seafood banquet.

It will be preceded by a technical day where the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research will present on the Sustainable Seas Science Challenge, rehabilitating a paua fishery and supporting inshore fisheries innovation. Plant & Food Research and the Cawthron Institute will cover food safety topics.