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Shaping a fishing industry where sustainability and innovation are at the core is the goal of the Fisheries Industry Transformation Plan unveiled this week by the New Zealand Government. “We’re striking a balance between looking after our oceans and making sure we’ve got a sustainable seafood sector that can cope with the impacts of climate change,” Rachel Brooking, Oceans and Fisheries Minister said at the plan’s launch.

More profits and jobs without more catches

Seafood is an important source of food, income and jobs in New Zealand, which has the fourth-largest ocean area in the world. According to data provided by Minister Brooking at the Fisheries Industry launch, in the first six months of 2023, the seafood sector had generated a record NZD 2.1 billion (EUR 1,159 million – USD 1,271 million) in export earnings and employed nearly 12,500 people.

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“This plan looks at ways we can earn more and create more jobs without catching more fish, by, for example, making more medical, cosmetic and nutraceutical products from seafoods,” Brooking stated. “But our oceans are under pressure too, and there’s no doubt we’ve got to find ways of doing things differently.”

“Protecting ocean ecosystems and all the species living in them is critical to not only the survival of the industry, but also to the survival of life on Earth, especially as climate change impacts like ocean acidification and warming start to bite,” she said.

A world leader in innovative and sustainable seafood

“Consumers here and overseas are increasingly demanding evidence that what they’re eating has been sustainably caught or grown,” she continued. The Minister of Oceans and Fisheries welcomed the fact that New Zealand’s Fisheries Industry Transformation Plan places environmental protection, climate change, and community development at its core.

“This plan will drive innovations like environmentally friendly fishing gear and finding ways of adding value,” Rachel Brooking added.  “The plan’s vision is for New Zealand to be acknowledged as a world leader on innovative and sustainable premium seafoods and bioproducts. Its release is a major step on the road to achieving that.”

Developed collaboratively, with the fishing industry working with environmental groups, iwi representatives, scientists, unions and the food sector, the transformation plan attracted more than 3,000 submissions during its preparation.

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