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World leading fisheries management showcased in mini-documentary

Friday 7 July 2017

The Quota Management System is made simple in one of a series of mini-documentaries highlighting the success of the New Zealand seafood industry.

Hoki, the mainstay of the deepwater fishery, is sustainably fished to the extent that for every 100 fish, only 10 are taken.

In the case of slower growing and longer lived orange roughy, only four of every 100 are caught.

These facts are featured as part of a promise to the people of New Zealand from the men and women in the seafood industry to protect the resource for generations to come.

The programme kicked off last Sunday with television and online advertisements showing the faces of skippers and crew and process workers.

It highlights the innovation being shown such as Precision Seafood Harvesting that lands live fish on deck and allows non-target and undersized species to be returned to the sea, and deepwater acoustics and video that greatly enhance stock assessments and targeted fishing.

Chef Darren Lovell tells how he refused to serve orange roughy at his Queenstown Fishbone restaurant.

“Back in the day orange roughy was kind of like a gold rush, we almost wiped it out,” he said.

“As soon as this was recognised everyone went 'whoa, we need to do something'.”

Sealord technical manager Charles Heaphy said we were working on assumptions back then that the fish would grow back, there's a huge population and they'll grow back quite fast.

“What we found later on was that they didn't grow or reproduce as fast as we thought and that fishery got pretty close to collapse.

“The aim of the quota management system is to ensure that the amount of fish taken out is a sustainable amount of fish. So we measure the fish, we know how many fish are there. We know how fast they grow and how fast they reproduce. We can put those two things together and we work out exactly how many we can take to keep the fishery sustainable.

“A couple of the big players in the deepwater fishery quota management system are hoki and orange roughy. We catch 10 percent of hoki every year. They're a fast growing fish so in four or five years a new generation's come through, as opposed to orange roughy which is a slower growing species and we're fishing four percent of those on an annual basis. If we keep to that, just four percent of the fish that are there, we know that that population is slowly increasing.”

A hundred species of New Zealand fish are managed under the QMS and the sustainability of a number of those has been independently certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.

On the video titled World Leading, MSC Oceania programme director Anne Gabriel says the international not-for-profit organisation has a blue tick to ensure that the seafood you're consuming has gone through a process of rigorous third party auditing and has come from a sustainable source.

“The orange roughy is a story of redemption, for the New Zealand industry has had the foresight to start the whole process of research two decades ago, leading into eventually the MSC certification that was successful at the end of last year.”

The international recognition of our fisheries management as one of the most sustainable in the world changed Darren Lovell's approach.

“I discovered just how well we manage our fish and how the world reveres our fisheries management system. Orange roughy is an amazing story. We started serving it again in the restaurant. I love looking at our customers and they come from all around the world and their faces light up when they tuck into our fish. We have the best seafood in the world and we should all be proud of it.”

Our Promise and the related videos have drawn hundreds of comments on Facebook and other social media.

As of this morning, the Promise had 45,221 views on YouTube and 180,000 on Facebook.

"Good work sea protectors of New Zealand. Kia kaha. God bless," Michael Whakamaru King said.

Gordon Lewis wrote: "All fishermen and women have the same views, fantastic little clip."

“Awesome videos brothers, I just really hope you keep your promise. It would make NZ the best place on earth,” said Thomas Whiteman.

Simon Robert Ward-Kelly said: “If this really is a true reflection of how you guys are fishing, then big ups to you all. Just keep an eye on the Asian vessels and ensure or demand they’re doing the same.”

Spouter man was less eloquent and less well disposed. “Haha you guys don’t give a f*** about NZ. Just rape.” He added: “Nice video though.”

"Too many people that just want to follow the rumors and refuse to see the change being made," Bradley Farquhar said. "Some commercial fishermen that I know are some of the ones that care the most about the sea. But hey, you'll always have some that hate."

Yes, there will always be those. It's easy to knock - much harder to be constructive.

But most Kiwis are fair-minded and will give credit to a seafood sector willing to step up.

It is up to all of us in the industry to live up to the promise we have made.

Click here to watch Our Promise and the World Leading video. 

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