Jesse Crasborn is the skipper (captain) of Sealord’s factory trawler, Rehua.
He is also at the helm of an award-winning sustainable fishing practice. In 2022 Crasborn and his crew won the Innovation Champions Award at the Seabird Smart Awards in recognition of their commitment to seabird protection.
The 66m-long Rehua accounts for much of Sealord’s annual ling and hoki harvest. This keeps a skipper busy enough, but Crasborn still leapt at the opportunity to participate in the Seabird Net Capture Reduction programme run by the Deepwater Group.
That’s because Crasborn is passionate about sustainability and protecting the environment. He has been a member of the group for three years, helping with new ideas, devices and techniques to try and prevent seabirds interacting with, and accidently getting caught up in, fishing gear.
Some of the initiatives trialled on the Rehua are water cannons, offal management, coloured streamers, and rigid panels on the trawl.
Crasborn credits his crew with persevering through trials.
“It’s definitely more work for the crew,” he says.
“When you’re trying to fish and on a schedule, it takes a bit of effort to set things up, but everyone wants to be involved in helping to make a change.”
Crasborn notes that since he started commercial fishing in 2001, he’s seen a positive shift towards environment and wildlife protection. He’s proud to be part of a company that invests well in sustainability.
“It feels great to be part of a company like this. Not only do I fish commercially but also recreationally, so it’s a big part of my life outside of work too. For future generations it’s important everyone has a that commitment to looking after our oceans and environment.”
Crasborn’s efforts continue back on shore – at home he is planting 10,000 native trees on the section he owns with his wife Cindy, overlooking Tasman Bay in Nelson. It’s a family effort – the couple have a young son who, at the tender age of two, has been out fishing with his dad on one of Crasborn’s two recreational boats.
“Finding ways to achieve solutions isn’t easy, but it’s well worth the effort,” Crasborn says.