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Seafood Industry generates sustainable growth

11 February 2005

Seafood Industry generates sustainable growth

Seafood Industry Generates Sustainable Growth from Innovation, Efficiency and Environmental Integrity

The New Zealand seafood industry has a bright future and will generate growth through innovation and optimisation of resources despite a challenging and at times disappointing 2003-04, the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council Ltd Chairman, Dave Sharp, said in the annual review.

Total export earnings reduced marginally to $1.2 billion from the previous year due to the impact of high exchange rates, rising fuel costs and government charges, coupled with the industry-sought reduction in the hoki TACC (Total Allowable Commercial Catch) and reduced catches in some inshore species such as scallops.

Mr Sharp said the industry as a whole was under some financial strain and rationalisation would likely be ongoing.

"The seafood industry is still a vibrant and dynamic industry with a bright future. We are the country's fifth largest export earner, providing employment for an estimated 26,000 people nationally. We are recognised internationally as a world leader in sustainable fisheries management, innovation and integrity and we will fight hard to protect this reputation and our ability to deliver consistently high quality products that are harvested under environmentally sustainable processes.

"Effective and principled management of the environmental impacts of fishing is critical to our industry," he said. "Consumers around the world are placing increasing importance on knowing that the seafood they purchase comes from sustainable and environmentally aware fisheries.

"As an industry we will continue to introduce and promote new technology and techniques which allow selective harvesting and gear to be controlled in ways that minimise impact with the seabed and ocean environment and reduce the by-catch of marine mammals and seabirds."

A highlight of the year was the formation of Seafood Innovations Ltd, a research company owned 80 percent by the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council Ltd (SeaFIC) and 20 percent by Crop and Food Research Ltd. The joint-venture will leverage funding from FoRST and aims to commercialise market-driven industry innovation across the value chain.

"The industry recognises that export returns for the wild fisheries are more likely to grow by improving and optimising current resources rather than through increased catch volumes," Mr Sharp said. "Aquaculture, on the other hand, has considerable opportunity to grow through increased production as well as through innovative technology. We need consumer-appealing, value-added products presented in a way which will earn premium prices.

Mr Sharp said SeaFIC, which manages generic industry issues so a sustainable commercial platform can be built for ongoing industry development, would focus in the year ahead on a number of key areas including protecting access to fishing or aquaculture space threatened by the formation of more marine reserves or semi-closed areas; developing fishery management plans, giving industry greater involvement in the management of fisheries; providing sound science and policy advice to the industry; managing constructive relationships with government; and working on issues relating to compliance costs and processes.

"Unlike nearly all other fishing nations, the New Zealand industry receives no government subsidies and pays the $35 million-plus annual cost of running the commercial fisheries management and research systems. These are very substantial costs and SeaFIC will continue to ensure that the basis for all funds collected under cost recovery are consistent with the Fisheries Act and focused on cost-effective fisheries management," he said.


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