New Zealand-developed trawl technology receives Fisheries New Zealand approval

28 June 2019

The innovative Modular Harvesting System (MHS), developed with the help of scientists from Plant & Food Research, has been approved for use by Fisheries New Zealand for North Island inshore fishing – snapper, tarakihi, red gurnard and John Dory, with specific conditions.

This adds to the 2018 approval for commercial use of the technology in the deep water hoki, hake and ling fisheries.

Scientists from Plant & Food Research have been working on developing and trialling this technology and the systems that support it on commercial fishing vessels since 2006. 

In 2012 the MHS was further developed and commercialised through a seven-year $48M Ministry for Primary Industries Primary Growth Partnership programme with fishing industry sponsors Sealord Group Ltd, Sanford Ltd and Moana New Zealand, and science input from Plant & Food Research. 

“Having regulatory approval for both inshore fisheries and deep water means the technology can now deliver its potential – improving the quality of fish caught and the sustainability of our fishing industry,” says Dr Gerard Janssen, Harvesting Technology Science Team Leader, in Plant and Food Research’s Seafood Production Portfolio. 

The MHS replaces the terminal end of conventional mesh trawl gear where fish accumulate during the capture process. It consists of a self-inflating, modular fish ‘refuge’ where the water velocity inside the MHS is reduced to within the stamina of the catch, allowing fish to regain control, individualise and look after themselves during the fishing event. 

The low-flow, low-turbulence internal environment, achieved with appropriately-positioned and -sized escapement holes to allow water (and undersize catch) to escape, ensures fish are less fatigued and damaged and arrive on board in better condition. 

“This technology will enable our fisheries to shift to higher-value, sustainable products, positioning New Zealand as a world-class seafood producer,” says Dr Suzy Black, Physiology and Behaviour Science Team Leader in Plant and Food Research’s Seafood Production Portfolio.

Sarah Evans
Senior Communications Advisor, Corporate Communications,
Plant & Food Research Mt Albert,
120 Mt Albert Road, Sandringham
Auckland, 1025, New Zealand
Telephone: +64-9-925-3531
Mobile: +64-21-523-013