Fishing's Future: Value Not Volume
19 May 2000
Increasing value not volume is the way to greater earnings for the seafood industry, Fisheries Minister Pete Hodgson told the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council conference in Nelson today.
"We have of course started adding lots of value already, in many ways - how to cut a hoki fillet, how to handle live product, how to maximise value from by products, and on it goes," Mr Hodgson said.
"But the potential for increased value is still far from realised. For example we have virtually no marine pharmaceutical industry, a very modest marine jewellery industry, a still underdeveloped fishing charter industry and so on.
"In some fisheries the product is still just fished, filleted and flogged. It's still the equivalent of hocking off lamb in muslin bags."
Mr Hodgson said smarter catching, processing and marketing techniques were emerging but needed to develop faster.
In his first major speech as Fisheries Minister he also delivered a firm message about his approach to the portfolio.
"I am not available for capture," he said. "Not by you as a stakeholder group. Not by environmentalists, nor Maori, nor recreationalists, nor anyone else."
Mr Hodgson said he was not going to continue the tradition of TACC (Total Allowable Commercial Catch) meetings, in which stakeholders were invited to debate ministerial decisions that had been made with due consultation.
"We must learn to get to decisions without that sort of ritualised lobbying."
But Mr Hodgson was positive about the future of the seafood industry, saying its potential for growth was "very substantial".
He said there were visionaries in the industry and progress on many fronts in the past 20 years had been remarkable. The law had been rewritten, the fishing industry had become a seafood industry, understanding of the ecosystem had improved, the rights-based Quota Management System had bedded in and employment and overseas earnings had risen rapidly.
Mr Hodgson stressed the importance of improving scientific understanding of New Zealand's marine resources, saying current knowledge of the marine ecosystem "is about as good as our knowledge of the terrestrial ecosystem was 100 or 120 years ago".
He also urged the industry to take biosecurity issues seriously, saying New Zealand was "behind on marine biosecurity and we need to catch up".
Contact: Graeme Speden (press secretary) 04 471 9707 or 025 270 9055