Seafood industry celebrated at the Seafood Sustainability Awards

The big winner at the Seafood Sustainability Awards was a man who has spent almost 20 years working to protect seabirds and marine mammals in the commercial fishing industry.

The awards, held for the first time at parliament on 3 August 2020, were hosted by Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash who says the industry has committed and positive leaders.

The Awards were attended by commercial and recreational fishers, as well as environmental NGOs, science providers and government agencies.

New Zealand’s Seafood Sustainability Awards were hosted by Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash. Photo: Seafood New Zealand

The winner of the Kaitiakitanga Award and also winner of the Supreme Sustainability Award was Richard Wells of Resourcewise who has been heavily involved in reducing the risk to protected species since 2005.

Richard is an environmental and industry leader with huge mana. Richard’s major contributions to protected species bycatch management in New Zealand include: the development and implementation of the deepwater protected species bycatch liaison programme; Vessel Management Plans across the deepwater fleet; and bycatch mitigation and science for our native seabirds, sea lions and other marine mammals.

The judging panel selected Richard Wells as the winner of the Supreme Sustainability Award due to his consistent and longstanding commitment to sustainability in the seafood sector.

The judges noted Richard’s willingness to share the knowledge he has gained through research into bycatch, as well as into New Zealand’s native seabirds, sea lions, and other marine mammals to build capacity in people and systems, and his collaborative approach to problem solving.

“Richard’s work has resulted in increased use of methods to mitigate bycatch, and the development of a culture built on pride, responsibility, and accountability in the deepwater fleet. His work has helped to protect marine mammals and bird-life.”

Winner of the Operational Innovation Award was the CRA8 Lobster Industry Association that has developed fisheries and environmental management plans that have maintained high stocks abundance while maximising economic returns in the Fiordland Marine Area.

The Lee Fish Award for Market Innovation and Value-Added was won by The New Zealand King Salmon Company and they were recognised for world-leading waste minimisation, work on plastics and the development of their own environmental certification programme.

The Emerging Leader Award was taken away by Nate Smith of Gravity Fishing, a company that fishes to order, only sells whole fish and has 100 percent traceability and transparency.

And the Minister of Fisheries Award, which recognises those who have made a continuous outstanding contribution to the sustainability of the seafood sector was won by Rosemary Hurst of NIWA.

Seafood New Zealand Chief Executive, Jeremy Helson welcomed the Awards and says he is delighted the Minister has put them on the calendar.

“There is some excellent work going on in the seafood sector both in minimising our environmental footprint and designing innovative new ways of fishing.

“It is great to see our people getting recognition for their efforts and we thank Minister Nash for making it possible.”