Monday, 9 March 2009


Some of them anyway. Stuff reports that fish exporters are doing ok out there on the stormy seas of international trading.

Fishing exporters are in good heart with high prices, a low exchange rate and cheap fuel but further rationalisation is inevitable as the industry's biggest firms seek more efficiencies.

Yip, Nick Churchhouse ( now theres a good looking journo - we reckon he will be snapped up by TV soon) is right about rationalisation. Word is that Sealords and Sanfords may end up as one within five years.

Seafood prices globally have jumped more than 50 per cent in the past year, according to the ANZ commodity price index, and with a kiwi dollar worth more than 30 per cent less, the immediate future is rosy.

Yip - Rock lobster isn't the only million dollar catch. Paua is another good one and with the recent buy out of a large chunk of paua quota Aotearoa Fisheries is well placed to reap the benefits of this well managed fishery in the future.

Deep Water Group chief executive George Clement, representing the large fishing companies that fish New Zealand's deep water fisheries, said catch rates were up in key stocks like hoki.

George is one of the good guys and smarter than a smart thing to boot.

Sustainable management of the fish stocks was working and New Zealand was earning a premium price for having a reliable and consistent supply of fish. Statistics New Zealand said the asset value of New Zealand's commercial wild catch fish resource was almost $4 billion, up 45 per cent from $2.7b in 1996.

A fishing industry analyst said there was growing demand for fish around the world, and stocks had not been able to keep up even with the growth of aquaculture.

With prices going up as a result and northern hemisphere fisheries starting to feel the bite of decades of fisheries mismanagement, New Zealand was in a good position.

"In many parts of the world the industry has been suicidally short-term and overfished its resources. We've had the quota management system, while it has its occasional critics, has done a good job of protecting our fisheries resources."

The jury is out on this one. Its good in the inshore but its doesnt allow for serial depletion and it has some major flaws when applied to the deep sea fisheries.

Seafood buyers in Europe were struggling to gain credit to pay for orders late last year, dropping demand markedly before it rebounded.

High-end products had taken a hit as restaurants and luxury seafood markets were affected by the economic downturn.

"But the industry dynamics are sufficiently attractive; demand has for many years outstripped supply," he said.

Yes but Europe is still to feel the full brunt of the economic tsunami and the arse could fall out of things there very quickly.

Fishing giant Sealord's announcement that it would chop 180 jobs at a Nelson processing plant in favour of processing at sea was part of a larger strategy. "The challenge ahead is that we have an industry that is characterised as being labour intensive, capital intensive and energy intensive," Mr Clement said.

We agree- there is more rationalisation needed and more to come.

Sealord was predicted to make a profit of $20 million in the year to June but despite the positive indicators of price and demand, those three factors continued to cost more.

The Deep Water Group was working to reduce the capital invested in ships out fishing, evident from the reduction in the orange roughy and oreo fleet south of Wellington to three boats. "Those boats are large, higher catch rates, well run, lower energy use, lower environmental impact because there are fewer trawls. They are at sea about 340 days a year; there is nobody in the world doing that," Mr Clement said.

Yip we are world leaders - no doubt about that but there is still room for improvement.

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