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The Chatham Islands Ocean - Why it's so special

The waters surrounding the Chatham Islands are bountiful. But what makes them so special? And what gives rise to the internationally renowned flavours of Chatham Island seafood? In this blog, we dive into the plentiful Southern Ocean and put Chatham waters and seafood under the microscope. 

Marine Ecology

The key reason for the regions underwater productivity is topography. Chatham Island sits at the edge of a plateau that begins off the coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Known as Chatham Rise, the plateau brings together cold — nutrient-rich water from the Antarctic, with warm — iron-rich water from the subtropics. As these waters mix and cascade over Chatham Rise, they create the perfect conditions for marine organisms like phytoplankton to thrive. And thrive they do. This results in a kind of ‘food mecca’ for fish and mammal species around the Chathams. 

Naturally, marine animals like Blue Cod and Crayfish in this ecosystem grow bigger and fatter, and that fat is like marbling in beef — enhancing the flavour and taste experience. 


By virtue of its remoteness and size, the Chatham Islands was discovered very late in human history and supports only a small agricultural community. Free from urban sprawl and the environmental impacts of large onshore populations, the waters surrounding the Chathams remain clean and pristine — ideal for a healthy marine ecosystem.


Today, all Chatham Islanders are heavily invested in the protection of these special waters and the wildlife they support. As such, no dredging, trawling or Danish senining is allowed in Chatham waters; pot fishing for Blue Cod remains the only commercial fishing method used. Moreover, community leaders keep a close eye on this marine environment and regularly come to fishing and diving restrictions that go well beyond those laid down in New Zealand law.

The Result

When you buy Chatham Island Seafood you are buying a premium product, and investing in the locals that care for the source of this product. Today Chatham Island Food Co exports island seafood all over New Zealand and the world, with a continued focus on quality and sustainability. This ensures the world gets to experience our Island delicacies and that the future for the Chathams is a bright one

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