Ngāti Kahungunu in partnership with Hawke’s Bay Seafood today started rolling out the use of turned mesh lengtheners in conjunction with a 5” codend on the Company’s inshore fishing trawlers in an effort to preserve the fishing industry for future generations.
Based on independent research turned mesh releases up to 81% more unwanted fish (bycatch) compared to traditional nets, as the unique mesh design means small fish can escape. Other advantages include; better quality fish and better fuel efficiencies for the trawlers with less drag from the net, therefore a reduction in carbon footprint.
The innovative hybrid net incorporates elements of the T90 net which was developed by the Fishing Technical Institute Sintef at the facility in Hirtshals, Denmark. This was first trialled in the Northern Hemisphere back in 2012 and also by other companies and individuals here in New Zealand, one being Rick Burch from Napier.
Mr. Burch found that by changing the net from the traditional diamond shape and moving it 90 degrees to a more square shape that species with a round profile, such as Gurnards, Red Cod, Kahawi and Rig could escape more easily through the open meshes. Nāgti Kahungunu provided funds to help support Mr Burch’s project and the initiative was included in the Restorative Innovations awards at the NZI National Sustainable Business Network awards in 2014.
Hawke’s Bay Seafoods has been working with Motueka Nets Ltd; a Nelson -based company that is using the T90 concept and trialling variations to see if bycatch can be reduced even further. The new nets launching in the Hawke’s Bay use the turned mesh as a selectivity device (at 41/2” – larger than in the initial research) and a 5” codend (again larger than in the initial research).
The initiative between Ngāti Kahungunu and Hawke’s Bay Seafood will make them one of the first Iwi and fishing companies in New Zealand to implement the new turned mesh nets in order to reduce commercial fishing bycatch and promote energy efficiency.
Ngāti Kahungunu Chairman, Ngahiwi Tomoana, says; “We’re proud to be leading the way and setting a precedent around sustainable fishing that we hope other Iwi will follow. We all need to take responsibility for preserving New Zealand’s fishing industry for future generations. There is very little investment from the government in R&D in the fishing industry with poor to no inshore science data in the area 2 fishery – from East Cape to Cape Palliser - so we are taking the initiative to understand the specie population and dynamics and will continue to invest in sustainable fishing practices.
We have also set a new criteria around the lease of our inshore quotas; stipulating that the operator will have to use turned mesh nets and practice sustainable fishing practices,“ added Mr Tomoana.
Ngāti Kahungunu lease their inshore fishing quota to Hawke’s Bay Seafood who in turn employ over 200 staff from the Iwi which has a significant impact on the local economy.
Hawke’s Bay Seafood has been progressively working towards more sustainable fishing practices, with the company converting five of its eight trawler vessels to longline boats over the last four years. The two inshore trawlers will use the new turn mesh lengthener with a 5 inch codend net. The remaining trawler is used for deep-sea fishing.
Furthermore, Hawke’s Bay Seafoods CEO, Nino D’Esposito, explained that the company wants the three contractor trawlers they use to move across to the sustainable nets.
“We are committed to implementing sustainable fishing practices across the business. All our inshore company-owned trawlers will have the new nets, and we have offered to purchase the nets for the boats that we contract from to reduce the impact our operations have on the environment and to preserve the industry for future generations,” says Mr D’Esposito.
 Paper – Trials of the turned mesh trawl aboard the FV Nancy Glen II prepared by Oliver Wade September 2011