Growing Futures

Selective wildfish harvesting

Selective wildfish harvesting

Gentle harvest technologies maintain quality of the catch and meet consumer demands for sustainable fisheries

New Zealand fishing vessels catch around 230,000 tonnes of wild fish each year using traditional trawl design, with an export value in excess of $820 million. As fisheries are managed under the Quota Management System, increasing returns to the industry primarily relies on increasing the quality, not the quantity, of the catch.

The Modular Harvesting System (MHS) is a prototype system that uses an understanding of the physical, physiological and behavioural aspects of fish to target specific species and fish sizes, as well as enabling fish to be landed in a better condition than with traditional harvesting systems. The fish are landed in a live, semi-rested state, maintaining the quality of the animal and increasing its value on the export market. The reduction in the number of non-target species taken maintains the health of all fish stocks.

Meeting consumer demand

The quality of fish taken under the Modular Harvesting System, combined with increasing demands for more sustainable, more humane fish harvesting, will command a premium in export markets. It is expected that use of the system will increase GDP by $43.6 million by 2025.

Optimising for the fleet

Three major New Zealand companies – Sealord Limited, Moana New Zealand Limited and Sanford Limited – are are leading, under the Primary Growth Partnership programme, the testing and optimisation of the Modular Harvesting System for use on fishing fleets, with technical expertise from Plant & Food Research. It is anticipated that the MHS will be offered to the wider industry following implementation of the technology by the commercial partners.

The development of the MHS was funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Commercialisation of the technology is funded through the Ministry for Primary Industries' Primary Growth Partnership and the seafood industry.

Updated: July 2017

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