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Precision Seafood Harvesting publishes first results on new fish survival technology

New Zealand’s scientists are proud of potential replacement for traditional fishing methods.

After two years of testing, New Zealand’s new Precision Seafood Harvesting method has yielded its first set of results, with scientists claiming survival rates for fish are better than expected.


The new way to fish is a potential replacement for traditional fishing methods.  It is a large, flexible PVC liner with specifically sized holes along its length that allow undersized fish to escape before they are even brought on board a fishing vessel.


And the fish which are brought on board stay in great condition because they are still swimming in the liner when they are on the deck.  That means they are less stressed and much less likely to be injured.


“We were certainly hopeful that we’d improve the survivability rates for the fish we were catching, but already it’s better than we expected,” said Alistair Jerrett, the Science Group Leader from Plant and Food Research.”


Typically, snapper harvested with the PSH system have a 100% chance of survival if they’re fished from a depth of 0-20 meters.  For snapper taken from deeper water, from 20-90 meters, the survivability number is 79% and we’re going to get better and better.”


Dave Woods, the Programme Manager for PSH says a fully functioning and commercialised PSH has huge potential to increase the sustainability of New Zealand’s fisheries.


“The objective is to massively increase the proportion of small fish or unwanted by-catch that can be returned to the sea completely unharmed by our fishing. ”



Greg Johansson, COO at Sanford claimed the new method offer new commercial opportunities.


“It changes the way fish can be brought to market. It increases the value of the products we can offer and in turn, the value of the industry.  The story of how the fish is caught is increasingly important for consumers and this new method is a great New Zealand story, that will potentially change the way the world fishes.”


Precision Seafood Harvesting is the commercialisation phase of nearly ten years of New Zealand research.


Three major New Zealand fishing companies with, Aotearoa Fisheries, Sanford and Sealord investing $26 million between them into the programme.


The other half of the funding comes from the Ministry for Primary Industries, which is matching the industry investment.


Scientists at Plant & Food Research are working with the fishing companies to develop and trial the technology on commercial fishing vessels.


However, Dave Woods, a scientist from PSH says there is still plenty of work to do.


We need to test PSH on more species and in a greater variety of conditions.  We are only in the third year of a six year programme, so there is plenty of science still to be done.”


As well there is also the issue of fish being too relaxed while in the tube.


“We were hoping many more undersized fish would take advantage of the built in escape zones while the PSH was underwater, but it seems that snapper in particular are a little too happy to hang out in the tube,” said Alistair Jerrett.


“So we are devising ways to encourage more of them to head for the escape zones and out into the open water.”


Dorje Strang of Sealord Group says the project will aim to focus more on deep water, wanting to see how the system operates in the waters off the South Island and particularly on vessels that are fishing for hoki.

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