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After dedicating almost 20 years to the Northern Territory Seafood Council, Katherine Winchester has decided it’s time to explore new horizons.

But the Northern Territory Seafood Industry Council was not about to let Katherine, their former CEO, leave without acknowledging the high regard in which she is held.

The respect she has garnered over almost two decades saw Katherine awarded the 2024 Industry Ambassador Award at May’s Northern Territory Seafood Industry Awards.

“It’s been a huge part of my life but it’s time to stop, pause and breathe,” says Katherine of her almost two decades in the industry.

Her nomination for the Industry Ambassador Award reflected her standing within the industry, reading in part: “As she prepares to depart, the overwhelmingly positive feedback reflects her valued legacy and the broad respect she commands across the sector.”

While being CEO of the Seafood Council was frequently challenging, Katherine says some of her fondest memories relate to the seafood labelling laws introduced here in the Territory, over 14 years ago and the Support NT Caught marketing initiatives.

Support NT Caught encourages restaurants, retailers, wholesalers, fish and chip outlets, cafes and pubs to display the campaign logo to let customers know they are eating products from Top End waters.

“It helped celebrate the people who bring us this wonderful seafood,” says Katherine.

“I could see the pride return to the people in the industry (as a result of the campaign). And it still makes me smile today when I see the logo.”

In 2023, 14 years after the Northern Territory first introduced seafood labelling laws and the Support NT Caught initiative began, the Australian Government followed suit with Country of Origin, to let people know they are eating genuine Australian seafood.

Katherine says, the human face of the business can be too easily forgotten in the political debates the seafood industry is at times forced to endure.

Seafood Council chair Joanne Butterworth-Gray said that the 2024 awards highlight the passion and professionalism of the people in the industry both on the water and behind the scenes.

“Despite ongoing challenges, the Northern Territory seafood industry continues to demonstrate resilience and it is inspiring to witness the industry come together to honour the individuals and businesses whose achievements strengthen our community,” says Joanne.

The 2024 awards reflected the diversity, commitment and professionalism within the Northern Territory seafood industry.

Toni Hedditich, a second-generation fisher, won the Young Achiever Award for her commitment to the industry in both her day-to-day running of the family business Taroona and Mackerel online and her role with NT Trusted Advocates, Darwin Stay Afloat Focus Community, a mental health and wellbeing support program for the seafood community.

The Research, Development and Extension Award went to Professional Fishers’ Knowledge to Inform Research and Management of Sawfish and River Sharks. Northern Australia is one of the few places in the world with sawfish and river shark populations. But developing management strategies is difficult because little is known about these unique marine species. To learn more, the Seafood Council partnered with researchers from Charles Darwin University, the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences and Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods, to harness the knowledge of professional fishers to provide key pieces of information to improve the current knowledge of the occurrence of sawfish (Pristis spp.) and river sharks (Glyphis spp.) in fishing grounds of Northern Australia.