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How we fish - our sustainable fishing practices

Fishing is the lifeblood of the Chatham Islands. Every day local fisherman brave huge swells and freezing cold squalls to bring premium island seafood into the homes of others. It’s hard, but ultimately rewarding work that supports many livelihoods. Naturally, securing the island’s bounty for future generations is of prime importance. For us, sustainability is not just a buzzword — it ensures the survival of our community as a whole. So, how do we as a company promote sustainable fishing? 

New Zealand Quota Management System  

First and foremost, the amount of fish caught by our local fishermen is recorded and managed under the New Zealand Quota Management System (NZQMS). With help from respected marine scientists, the Government sets restrictions on the Total Annual Allowable Catch (TAAC) for every fish stock living in a particular area. By law, catch limits must be set at levels that ensure the long-term sustainability of each species.* 

 Protecting our most precious resource 

To ensure our oceans remain healthy and vibrant, we as an Island have come up with our own protective ways, above and beyond government regulations, to help each species thrive, today and tomorrow. Our localised agreements cover supplementary restrictions on catch and size limits, selective fishing methods, and reef by reef shellfish management. This results in commercial fishers shelving a portion of their annual catch to establish a healthier and more abundant marine ecosystem. 

Chatham Blue Cod 

Catch method: Potting

When fishing for Chatham Island Blue Cod, we use large pots that are hand-thrown into the ocean. Each pot sits on the bottom for 20-30 minutes while the cod are slowly lured in with bait. Once they’re inside they swim around freely, so stress is greatly reduced. To avoid catching undersized fish, the pots are constructed using a large mesh material, allowing undersized fish to swim free. The size of the mesh used on Chatham fishing pots was recently increased to further protect the species — on the recommendation of the local fishing community.

Chatham Paua

Catch method: Hand caught

The Chatham Islands has one of the most progressive shellfish fishery management systems in NZ — or the world for that matter. Paua health, numbers and size are managed on a reef by reef basis, and by experienced local divers. Every reef and paua bed is assessed annually by these divers, wherein independent decisions are made about catch size and apportionment based on a reefs unique productivity. This ‘grass-roots’ style management — away from fishing companies — aims to secure an abundance of paua for future generations of Chatham Islanders.  

Reducing our carbon footprint 

While pots are used to catch crayfish and blue cod, our kina and paua are hand-caught by local divers. Thankfully, this bounty sits right on the island’s doorstep, so even when day-boats are in use they only ever cover short distances. We offset unavoidable emissions, like those which occur during transport, through large-scale coastal restoration and planting projects alongside the Chatham Island Taiko Trust. 


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