New Zealand’s seafood industry is publicly promising to protect the environment and secure long-term sustainable fisheries.

A promise to the people of New Zealand will air tonight on mainstream television. It will feature people from throughout the country employed in catching, harvesting and processing the seafood that drives one of the country’s most important domestic and export sectors.

The country’s main seafood companies have collaborated to promote the television and web-based programme, committing to a code of conduct that backs the promise.

There had been many innovative and exciting developments over the past few years but these were not always well known, Seafood NZ chief executive Tim Pankhurst said.

“We thought it was time to tell our story, which is one of an industry supporting dozens of communities throughout the country – and one of world-leading, cutting edge technology that is making a real difference to the way commercial fishing targets its catch, while lessening its environmental footprint,” Pankhurst said.

“We recognise there will always be criticism of the industry – and in some cases that may be deserved but in some others it is a misrepresentation – and that is why we are stepping up to deliver a promise to the people of New Zealand about our care for the environment and intent to deliver best fishing practise.

“Today’s vessels are state-of-the-art. Some have the ability to see fish one kilometre down so we can assess stocks and target specific species. Others are fitted with nets that allow under-sized fish to escape before being brought on board – and those that are brought on board are put live into tanks.

“There is huge effort being put into mitigating any captures of seabirds and marine mammals and fishers are trained in this technology and proud to utilise it.

“New Zealand is a fishing nation. We are people of the sea. We hope that people will take the time to watch and listen to our stories.” 

The promise and code of conduct are backed by web episodes that show life at sea and industry insights that few are aware of.

Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese, Bluff volunteer marine radio operator Meri Leask, The Marine Stewardship Council’s Anne Gabriel, skippers, crews, oyster openers and fish filleters are among those to feature.