Aotearoa Fisheries announces fishing fleet renewal

New Zealand’s largest iwi-owned fisheries company has launched a major fleet renewal programme, with state-of-the-art fishing boats to be built in New Zealand.

Aotearoa Fisheries announces fishing fleet renewal
The first trawler is due for completion in mid-2016.

Aotearoa Fisheries Limited today signed a deal with Nelson-based boat builders Aimex to build a technologically advanced inshore fishing trawler that will improve productivity and minimise environmental impact.

Aotearoa Fisheries Limited does not own any of its fleet, instead contracting fishers to catch its quota, and is working in partnership with Tauranga-based fishing company RMD on the first new boat.

CEO Carl Carrington says the programme will see the company provide support and assistance to existing contracted fishers to purchase new technologically-advanced fishing vessels.

"We appreciate that a new fishing vessel is a significant financial commitment and one that is out of reach for the majority of smaller fishing operators," Carrington says.

"A lot of the fishers that contract to us are small, family owned and operated businesses. We’re committed to backing the New Zealand inshore fisheries sector and leading the way on this national issue."

That is why Aotearoa Fisheries Limited is assisting individual fishers with transitional funding, long-term access to quota, secure financing and provide on-going business support, allowing for a sustainable, secure future for its inshore operators.

The new deal is the first step in the biggest fleet renewal of its kind in New Zealand since the early 1970s, and will see up to six new boats launched over the next few years. The overall project is estimated to cost between $25-30 million.

The programme delivers a much-needed boost to New Zealand’s aging inshore fishing fleet. The fleet’s average vessel age is estimated to be over 40 years, three times older than New Zealand’s car fleet, which has an average age of 13 years.

This new investment provides significant support to the New Zealand inshore fishing industry, which contributes significantly to the New Zealand economy.

The new vessel was designed by Australian company OceanTech, under the direction of Westfleet CEO Craig Boote, one of New Zealand’s leading fishing experts. The design is specifically suited to our challenging New Zealand fishing conditions, and it enables the use of cutting-edge sustainable technologies like Precision Seafood Harvesting which targets specific species.

The new vessels will be more fuel efficient, require less maintenance and because of their design are less susceptible to changeable weather conditions.

The first vessel will be owned by RMD, a Tauranga-based third-generation family business run by the Rawlinson whanau of Ngati Awa descent. Started by Bill and Nancy Rawlinson, RMD is now run by their three sons; Roger, Marcus and Dan and now their grandchildren are learning the ropes.

"As a fisherman that has been fishing for more than 25 years to Aotearoa Fisheries entities, this is a huge step in the right direction and we’re excited at the prospects of owning and operating a new vessel," Roger Rawlinson says. "With the full support from Aotearoa Fisheries, we can plan our future to bring through young Māori and our own tamariki into the fishing business for years to come."

Carrington says it was important to keep the vessel building in New Zealand so our local economy benefits from the investment. While unsure at this early stage how many, it will mean more jobs are created and existing ones secured in the Nelson region.

The first trawler is due for completion in mid-2016 and other vessels in the seine and longline sector will follow.

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