Launching a fishing revolution

25 February 2016

It has taken Plant & Food Research scientists more than 10 years of research and four years of trialling the technology with commercial vessels, but last night more than 60 Industry and Government representatives, as well as scientists from Plant & Food Research, gathered at The Cloud event centre in Auckland to officially launch Tiaki, a new category of seafood caught using a revolutionary method for commercial fishing.

Tiaki is the latest development of the six-year Primary Growth Partnership, Precision Seafood Harvesting (PSH), started in 2012 between the Ministry for Primary Industries and commercial fishing companies, Sanford, Sealord and Aotearoa Fisheries with Plant & Food Research as its research partner.

The team of scientists, led by Alistair Jerrett, set themselves high goals in developing new ways to fish with the overall objectives for PSH of improved catch quality and improved survivability rates for unintended catch. 

The Tiaki way is set to replace traditional trawl nets with the revolutionary PSH technology which allows captured fish to continue swimming, thereby reducing any damage that might ordinarily occur through stress or collision. The fish are brought on board in pristine condition, resulting in a premium seafood product of increased quality and value.

Tiaki radically improves sustainability by allowing undersized or unintended catch to either escape via holes in the tube or, if landed, be returned to the sea in a much better physical state, allowing for greatly improved survivability rates.

As well as creating the harvest system itself from prototypes, the research involved studying the physiology and behaviour of different species of fish to gauge their behaviour under a modular harvesting system. 

“One of the important aspects of the research involved modifying the in-trawl environment to ensure fish were able to swim or at least remain stationary without colliding, becoming exhausted or falling back,” says Dr Suzy Black, a Science Team Leader with Plant & Food Research’s Seafood Technologies Portfolio.

“The underwater camera footage was key to this, it really did provide a new perspective on the underwater environment experienced by the fish”.

“Tiaki is a fantastic example of the scientific expertise of Plant & Food Research underpinning the commercial endeavours of the primary industry,” says Plant & Food Research Business Manager Mark Jarvis.

“It shows what can be achieved when industry and research comes together to support and explore the commercial possibilities from scientific discovery. Tiaki is a real success story for New Zealand.”

Sanford, Sealord and Aotearoa Fisheries all currently have crews fishing the Tiaki way - with a combination of deep sea and inshore fisheries - catching hoki, alfonsino, snapper, gurnard, john dory, trevally and kingfish. At the launch, Nic Watt of the restaurant Musa prepared fish caught the Tiaki way in a number of delicious presentations and spoke of how impressed he was with the quality of the raw material.

More information on Tiaki can be found at 

Emma Timewell
Communications Manager, Corporate Communications,
Plant & Food Research Mt Albert,
120 Mt Albert Road, Sandringham
Auckland, 1025, New Zealand
Telephone: +64-9-925 8692
Mobile: +64-21-2429 365