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PM Official Opening of the Auckland Fish Market

PM HELEN CLARK SPEECH

Official Opening of the Auckland Fish Market

It is my pleasure to be here today at this important celebration for the New Zealand seafood industry; the official opening of the Auckland Fish Market.

During my four and a half years as Prime Minister, this is the fourth major new investment by Sanford which I have been pleased to open officially.

This tells me that Sanford is a go ahead company and knows the supreme importance of continually reinvesting in the company. Businesses with that ethos are helping drive the economic success New Zealand is currently having.

The Fish Market is an exciting and innovative development, showcasing the great quality and variety of seafood, which our nation has to offer.

The Market has already attracted widespread interest from wholesalers, restaurants, tourism operators and the general public. Since the digital seafood auction went live in May, I'm told that successful auctions have been held each working day, and that the number of buyers and sellers is steadily increasing.

One expects that this new Auckland Fish Market will become a centre of commerce for our seafood industry by providing the freshest and most extensive range of seafood available under one roof anywhere in New Zealand. As a world-class facility, it will also enhance the already excellent international reputation of our seafood produce.

A special feature of this Market is the seafood cookery school. Already it has featured an impressive array of chefs, including world famous Kiwi chef, Peter Gordon, and there is a talented line-up of national and international chefs scheduled here in the future. In order to strengthen local appreciation of New Zealand's fruits of the sea, students get expert tuition on how to cook and present different types of seafood.

Anyone who has seen the Sydney Fish Market, or Fishermen's Wharf in San Francisco, will appreciate the huge potential of this development. Future expansion of the site is planned. This facility will become not only a new focal point for the seafood industry, but also a significant tourist attraction.

Sanford's multi-million dollar complex has come a long way from the early days when Albert Sanford sold his fish at the bottom of Queen Street in Auckland in 1881. Early historical records discuss the prized "Sanford Smoked Snapper", which Albert Sanford smoked at the back of his Devonport home.

The company has a long and proud history in New Zealand. For the past 123 years, it has supplied quality seafood products to customers around the world, with most produce coming from our own waters. Employing almost 1300 people within New Zealand, Sanford has marketed New Zealand skills, expertise and technology in fisheries to the world. It is also a significant employer in our regions. I welcome the boost it gives to small towns from Bluff in Southland, Havelock in Marlborough, and Kaeo in the far north.

The investment Sanford and other Auckland based companies have made in the Auckland Fish Market will have a significant and positive effect on the valuable New Zealand seafood industry. Seafood is a significant export earner, to the tune of around $1.5 billion in annual export earnings. The industry directly employs more than 10,000 people, and overall plays a vital role in stimulating regional employment and economic growth.

The aquaculture part of the industry is set to expand further as the new legislation rolls out. We are aiming to have it in place by the end of this year.

The fact that we sell our seafood so successfully in world markets, despite tough competition, highlights the high quality, sound food safety regime, continued reliability of product supply, and innovative marketing of our industry.

These achievements have been made by an increasingly efficient industry, operating without subsidies, and contributing substantially to the management costs of the fisheries. The Quota Management System, introduced in 1986, has been integral to New Zealand avoiding the massive over-investment in fishing vessels and the gross over-fishing which has destroyed commercial fisheries in many parts of the world.

Under the QMS, New Zealand has become one of a handful of nations with fisheries managed sustainably. We are able to consider the needs of customary and recreational fishers while providing commercial fishers with a high degree of certainty about future supply, allowing for long term planning.

To its credit, Sanford and other fishing companies have actively participated in the collection and analysis of data to ensure realistic and cost effective scientific research programmes are developed, underpinning the sustainable use and management of fish stocks.

In addition, Sanford applies the principles of sustainability to its day-to-day operations, with initiatives such as recycling (from the office to the marine farm), and energy efficiency checks.

The government is committed to enhancing the value and enjoyment of our fisheries for all New Zealanders. We welcome the kind of innovation the Auckland Fish Market represents.

I applaud the efforts of all those involved in this exciting development, and the seafood industry's willingness to seek new opportunities. I congratulate Sanford, and the industry as a whole, for your contribution to employment. export earnings, regional development, and the New Zealand economy overall.

ENDS


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