Graham Stuart, CEO of Sealord, and researcher Alistair Jerrett from Plant & Food Research discuss the development of a modular fish harvesting system for deepsea fishing. The system aims for better deepsea commercial harvesting of fish while minimising bycatch. Alistair Jerrett won the Researcher Entrepreneur Award, and the Precision Seafood Harvesting (PSH) group won the People’s Choice Award.
Precision Seafood Harvesting is the use of a modular harvest system, which captures the fish in water so the fish can stay alive, stay oriented, stay swimming. In that way, with the fish in control of its own movements, we can actually attract fish that we want to retain in the harvest system to safe areas, and we can find escape mechanisms for fish that we want to exclude from the harvest.
We eject the ones that we don’t want at depth, which is the best place for them to be ejected, and then the ones that either we do want to come to the surface or inadvertently come to the surface are in really good nick. The Ministry of Primary Industries sees it as a hugely promising solution to a lot of the elephants in the room in terms of bycatch and discard.
In the deepsea trawling industry, this is the biggest innovation since the 1930s when the diesel engine was put into trawlers.
We’ve made a career out of trying to demonstrate that this is … you know, if you look after the animal, then they will look after you. It’s putting the animal right in the middle of the business model – you know, it’s good business to look after your animals.
So we want them in every boat. We want to put it into our joint ventures where our partners fish. and then we want to license and sell the technology to other fishing companies. We’re projecting $100 million a year, so that’s an outstandingly large amount of money for an industry where our total export earnings are only $1.5 billion.
It’s Plant & Food’s job to bring a fresh set of eyes to the seafood industry’s problems. You know we’re there to look 5, 10, 30 years out or 40 years out.
When a business like Sealord finds someone like Alistair, with those capabilities, to get in behind him commercially and to back him and then to take that invention and be able to commercialise it – roll it out to the world – it’s just one of those great opportunities in your career. You don’t come across them very often. I think it puts us on the map as being the world leaders in deepwater fishing. This is going to be the biggest thing out of the seafood industry in New Zealand.
It will change New Zealand’s fishing industry.
Video courtesy of Kiwi Innovation Network Limited
© Kiwi Innovation Network Limited, 2013