Sealord’s announcement this week of a new deepwater vessel is the most significant catching investment in a generation.
And two new fishing vessels were launched – Santy Maria in Nelson for iwi-owned Moana and Endeavour in Lyttelton for Stark Bros and Ocean Fisheries – in a red letter week.
Sealord chief executive Steve Yung announced the new 83-metre vessel at the annual Seafood New Zealand conference in Wellington on Wednesday.
To be built by Simek in Norway at a cost of $70 million, the freezer trawler will be the first new addition to the country’s deepwater fleet since Sealord’s Rehua 20 years ago.
Delivery of the Nelson-based vessel will be in 2018 and it will also bring an additional 80 local jobs.
The highly versatile vessel will have a capacity of 20,000 tonnes and will be able to fish all Sealord’s target species, from hoki and orange roughy to pelagics such as barracouta, squid and jack mackerel, according to Steve Yung.
It will be equipped with Precision Seafood Harvesting (PSH) technology that delivers live fish to the boat, boosting quality and value while also reducing bycatch.
Its advanced technology includes electricity generation from the winch system.
“Our business will gain a greater degree of self-reliance and the industry overall will reduce some of its dependence on charter vessels,” Steve Yung told conference delegates.
“As it goes about its work, I’m confident this vessel will make a very positive contribution to the way in which our industry is perceived and reported at home and internationally.
“It’s my belief that all stakeholders want the same outcomes – a New Zealand fishing industry that strives to maintain its lead in the journey for sustainability.”
A concept drawing of Sealord's new $70 million trawler.
That, too, is the focus for Moana (Aotearoa Fisheries Ltd) in a $25-30 million fleet renewal project.
Santy Maria is the first of new vessels that are more fuel efficient, powerful and stable that will minimise the environmental impact of trawling through the use of PSH.
Advanced bird protection measures have also been added. Offal is stored on board to be released when the vessel is not trawling, discharged below the water line so that birds are not attracted.
That was the brainchild of Westfleet chief executive Craig Boote who helped design the vessel with Australian company OceanTech. It was built by the Aimex Service Group in Nelson.
Moana supported Tauranga-based Roger Rawlinson (Ngati Awa) to purchase Santy Maria.
Moana chief executive Carl Carrington said the company was proud to be leading the fishing industry with boats that fit with its ethos of kaitiaki, or guardians, of the sea for future generations.
Moana's new vessel Santy Maria.
Further south it was a proud day for the Stark shipbuilders too as Endeavour slid down the slipway before a crowd of 350 on a perfect day at Lyttelton.
Chief executive Andrew Stark said this was the only day the vessel should look so good.
“Hopefully, it will quickly smell of fish and, unfortunately, will be scratched and have the odd bump, all in a hard day’s work for a fishing vessel and her skilful, hard working crew.”
But the euphoria of the launch was also tinged with sadness.
Almost a year ago the company’s vessel Jubilee sank without explanation and the three crew who were lost –Paul Bennett, Terry Booth and Jared Husband – were remembered.
Stark Bros' FV Endeavour
Such investments across deepwater and inshore demonstrate an industry in good heart built on sustainable stocks nurtured by the Quota Management System, described by Prime Minister John Key in opening the seafood conference as an “overwhelming success”.
But the property rights that underpin the QMS cannot be taken for granted, as seen with the arbitrary exclusion of commercial fishing from the vast Kermadecs zone without consultation with industry or Maori and further proposals to cut Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds access.
“Uncertainty is the enemy of investment,” Sir Tipene O’Regan, a former Sealord chairman and Ngai Tahu and Maori Fisheries Settlement proponent, reminded the conference.
Future investment decisions will likely hinge on that security of access to fishing stocks.
- Tim Pankhurst