For two weeks earlier this month a film crew travelled from Bluff to Auckland and many points in between to capture the role of the seafood industry.
That saw them experiencing everything from seasickness in Foveaux Strait to overnighting on a longlining vessel off Coromandel, to a spiritual gathering at a marae and introduction to kaitiakitanga, the concept of guardianship.
The resultant mini-documentaries will be available on our newly built seafood.co.nz website, which will be launched on Sunday after midday.
The programmes were not scripted and there are no actors. They present the voices representative of the 20,000 plus Kiwis who are directly employed in the industry plus the many more in related roles such as engineering and education.
The public will be encouraged to access the web-based episodes through mainstream television and online advertisements.
Those featured include skippers, crews, educators, processors and community leaders.
Those like Cordelia Calder, who enjoys “being a girl in a boy’s world” as a crew member on her father’s oyster boat, or Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese whose community is reliant on fishing and says “we are people of the sea”, and Kaikoura paua diver Jason Ruawai prepared to wait seven years or more for the fishery to recover from last year’s earthquake, or deepsea skipper Rex Chapman marvelling at the technology that films live fish a kilometre deep and guides adjustments to the trawl.
The 4-5 minute mini-documentaries will be promoted through short pointers on television and digital media.
They are driven off a promise to every New Zealander that will be launched on Sunday.
That promise is “to be guardians of our oceans and to continue finding new ways to lead the world with sustainable practices – right now and for decades to come”.
We concede “we may not always get it right but we’re committed to always exploring ways to do things better.
“We have nothing to hide and much to be proud of.”
That promise is not an empty one, it is backed by a six-point code of conduct.
That includes a commitment to being accountable for delivering on our promise and to supporting increased transparency.
We understand that much of what we do is over the horizon and out of sight and we welcome the public becoming better acquainted with how we operate.
Increased transparency is part of building that understanding and trust but it must also be affordable and practical and give due respect to the privacy and dignity of our people.
There have been many innovative and exciting developments over the past few years but these are not always well known.
We think it is time to tell our story, which is one of industry supporting dozens of communities throughout the country and one of world-leading, cutting edge technology that is making a real difference to the way commercial fishing targets its catch, while lessening its environmental footprint.
We recognise there will always be criticism of the industry – and in some cases that may be deserved, but in many others it is a misrepresentation.
That is why we are stepping up to deliver a promise to the people of New Zealand about our care for the environment and intent to deliver best fishing practice.
There is huge effort being put into mitigating any captures of seabirds and marine mammals and fishers are trained in this technology and are proud to use it.
New Zealand is a fishing nation. We are people of the sea. We hope people will take the time to watch and listen to our stories.