New Zealand Oyster Industry Association Chair: 1993-2013
Aquaculture New Zealand Deputy Chair: 2007-2009 (Director 2007-2013)
It’s 2007 and Callum McCallum stands beside the stage as Helen Clark officially launches Aquaculture New Zealand. As all eyes were on the Prime Minister of the day, Callum turned to inaugural CEO Mike Burrell and quipped: “How did it get this far Burrell – it was only supposed to be a strategy.”
His trademark disarming humour, an attempt to downplay the significance of the moment and his part in the achievement. As Aquaculture Council Chair, Callum had been heavily involved in the commissioning and drafting of the Aquaculture Strategy and subsequently the creation of the first cohesive, industry-wide representative body.
Now he was standing in front of 200 people, hardly believing the change that had come.
“It was quite evident that we really needed to get the industry together,” he said.
“Industry growth was constrained by governmental issues and local body issues, and we realised that to move forward and effect positive change, we needed to be speaking with one voice and working towards the same goal.
“Literally overnight the Government changed their attitude towards the industry and supported us to develop the Aquaculture Strategy.
“Prior to that, the Prime Minister wouldn’t have wanted to know us.
“But now it was clear we were about growth and economic benefits and I think they finally got us… and then suddenly, there we were standing beside the Prime Minister.”
Callum went on to serve as inaugural AQNZ deputy Chair until 2009 and remained the organisation’s oyster director until July this year when he also stood down as New Zealand Oyster Industry Association Chair.
After 20 years in the role, Callum has led the oyster industry through a host of biosecurity, food safety and regulatory challenges including the implementation of the Government’s biotoxin management programme, significant evolution of the Bivalve Molluscan Shellfish safety standards, the Gymnodinium catenatum Cyst Programme, the 2011 Aquaculture Law Reforms and the OsHV-1 outbreak.
The oyster industry has evolved during his tenure but it’s an evolution that Callum puts down to the efforts of the wider industry.
“The oyster industry is a close knit group,” he said.
“We’ve come a long way, we’re well organised and we’ve come through some hard times.
“It took a bit of time, but hey you make time for the important things.
“It’s the sort of thing you have to do when your livelihood is on the line.”