Tiaki – New Zealand launches a new method for harvesting premium seafood

Fishing the Tiaki way replaces traditional trawl nets with modular harvesting systems, a more sustainable way of fishing producing higher quality seafood.

When fishing in-shore species; Tiaki caught fish are brought on board alive, swimming in the water and in pristine condition. There is also the potential for an undersized or unintended catch to be returned to the sea with a much higher survivability rate.

When used to harvest deep water species such as Hoki, the new technology is reducing the damage to the fish, increasing the quality and adding significant value to the catch.

Crews fishing the Tiaki way – see how the technology works

Crews fishing the Tiaki way ? s ee how the technology works

Luke Jones, crew on Sanford’s Tengawai explains how the fishing method works.

Luke Jones, crew on Sanford’s Tengawai explains how the fishing method works.

Tiaki is the latest stage in the six-year Primary Growth Partnership between the Ministry for Primary Industries and three of our commercial fishing companies - Sanford, Sealord and Aotearoa Fisheries – representing a combined investment of 48 million dollars. The partnership was launched in 2012.

Ministry for Primary Industries Director-General Martyn Dunne says even though it is still being trialled Tiaki has already demonstrated huge potential.

“A lot of the industry players around the world are looking in at New Zealand and thinking this is wonderful.”

“What it is going to show to consumers in New Zealand and around the world is that we value our provenance story, we value the sustainability of our fishing stocks, and we have a story that we can tell the world of how these fish have been caught sustainably. The programme has around two years left to run, but we are seeing truly exciting progress.”

Programme manager for Precision Seafood Harvesting Dave Woods says there is increasing demand from consumers to be more connected to where their food comes from and the methods used to harvest it meant the commercial fishing industry needed to transform.

“This is a changing world, people are demanding to know where their seafood comes from and they are demanding that we care for the stocks of fisheries that we fish. We have to rise to that challenge and we have to use every available technology to do that.”

And that technology is not only working below the sea, Tiaki caught fish will come with its own traceability app meaning consumers can quickly find out more about where and how their fish was caught using their smartphone.

Underwater footage of fish being caught the Tiaki way

Underwater footage of the Precision Seafood Harvesting technology

It has taken 10 years of New Zealand research and four years of trialling the technology on board boats to get to this point.

Precision Seafood Harvesting technology was developed by Plant & Food research, a crown research institute based in Nelson.

The team of 14 scientists, led by Alistair Jerrett, set themselves high goals in developing new ways to fish with the overall objective for PSH of improved survivability rates for unintended catch.

“The best case scenario is always release at depth, that juveniles are not even brought on board. But equally important is increasing survivability rates for those that are.”

Senior scientist Suzy Black says the commercialisation project still retains a strong element of innovation and development work.

“The great thing about this work is that we are learning more and more about the behaviour of fish – and it is very different from species to species.”

“With cameras on the nets we can see what is going on below the surface, and compare the number of juvenile fish coming on board the vessel with the number of fish actually interacting with the net.”

“Alongside this we are working on the handling systems on board, changes to vessels and the regulations around how we fish.”

Market potential

Tiaki caught fish is tipped to be a big earner and marks a move by the three companies involved towards value over volume.

CEO of Sealord Steve Yung says capitalising on the demand domestically and worldwide for premium seafood is important for industry.

“The bulk of NZ’s fish is exported so export is the lifeblood of industry here.”

“The quality of the Tiaki caught fish is really going to give us the opportunity to set New Zealand apart from the rest of the world and give us a competitive advantage, particularly in the markets of Asia.”

“In terms of the resource we have in New Zealand, it’s limited. The Tiaki brand and technology will allow us to take advantage of the fact that it is a limited resource that we care for, that we catch sustainably, and that we can add value to.”

The Government set a target of doubling the value of New Zealand’s primary industry sector exports to 64 billion dollars by 2025, and it is hoped Tiaki caught fish will make a significant contribution towards that.

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