Esmay Hropic – WINSC & FRDC PD Scholarship Winner 2013
I am a Commercial Fisherman’s wife from Batemans Bay, on the South Coast of New South Wales. I am this year’s recipient of The WINSC FRDC PD Scholarship.
On behalf of my fishing community, myself and my family, I would like to thank the Women’s Industry Network Seafood Community and FRDC for making this possible. Without the tremendous help from the Scholarship, my studies and the setting up of the support centre we created for fellow fishermen and their families this would not have been possible.
We are the commercial fishing leaders, and as community spokesmen and women we accept that we are the face and the image of the Professional Fishing Industry. We represent the Seafood Industry in a positive way and on a daily basis through education, positive image, the respective acknowledgement of our Fishing Industry and the important part the fishermen’s role in providing food for the local communities.
In 2007 our commercial fishermen in Batemans Bay and Region 7 had a Marine Park forced upon us. This devastated the lives of our fishing community and their families.
The families and men have been displaced and emotionally and mentally demoralized. The flow-on effect has also taken its toll on businesses which have closed as a direct result of the Batemans Marine Park. I have set up a room in my home solely dedicated to assisting commercial fishermen and their families. Families and fishermen in crisis come around and my team is there for them at any time of the day or night. A Qualified Mental Health Nurse, Mrs Bernadette Brandes is a member and part of our team helping our fellow fishermen and their families. I have set up a Network of Agencies available to assist and this is ongoing and growing.
I organized Meetings with Director General Dr Geoff Allen, and the Hon Katrina Hodgkinson Minister for Primary Industries along with meetings that took place regarding Work Health and Safety Issues set up for Eden, Bermagui, Narooma, Batemans Bay and Wollongong in November and December 2013 to address the Safety Issues we have regarding the Clause 14 of the Fisheries Management Act 1994 following the death of our beloved friend, Matthew Barber in June 2013.
I have undertaken a University course in Legal Studies with three more years of law studies in Canberra to go until I receive my Bachelor Degree in Law. So far, this course has been immensely valuable and the knowledge I have gained in helping and assisting fellow fishermen and their families by directing them to services that are available has been well received and appreciated by all.
I have set up a Facebook page which now has a following of just over 1,300 members “Fishermen Australia” and “Support Australian Fisherman”. Mrs Skye McDermott assists with the daily running of these Facebook pages. A Website will be set up down the track but due to initial set-up costs we have that as a future project.
I am committed to assisting with social and legal reforms of commercial fishing families’ issues, and happy to share information which may assist families and communities so they don’t go down the same path we went down when changes occurred in our area.
Our United Motto Is:
- Knowledge and Education is the Key to Change,
- Unity is the Key for Strength,
- Understanding is the Key for Compromise,
- And Resource Sharing is the Key for Communities to Work Forward Together,
- Listening and Support is the Key for the Health and Mental Well-being.
- Scientific Research is the Key for a Viable and Secure Future
I am still on a long journey of study and am enjoying each day of learning. Currently we have set up a group dedicated to assist fishermen with the new challenges faced with the 2014 Restructure and Reform process which is currently underway, and this poses new problems, but we now have established a good working team of professionals dedicated to assist. There is more to do and we look forward to working alongside Industry and Government and securing our fishing industry future. The support we have from Industry is growing daily and has been well received and appreciated by all.
I would like to thank the women of WINSC, in particular Mrs Mary Howard, Mrs Anne Whalley, Mrs Gloria Jones, and Ms Julii Tyson. The work these women do behind the scenes is immensely important. I would like to thank FRDC and Dr Patrick Hone, for their generous support and for the amazing research that FRDC does in supporting environmental fishing initiatives.