New beginnings and Opportunities in New ZealandPosted on: 19th March 2021
When Hookpod CEO Becky Ingham asked me to work alongside her on the company’s marketing and operations, I jumped at the opportunity. It was 2019 and after several years in development, Hookpod was beginning to take off in a big way.
Fishery Commissions, NGOs and governments were backing Hookpod, big retailers such as ALDI were getting behind it as consumers seek seabird-safe seafood and commercial fishers were using Hookpods with great success.
One country in particular, New Zealand, was leading the way in working towards its goal of zero bycatch of seabirds. Its government had changed its regulations to allow Hookpods to be used as standalone mitigation in pelagic longlining and had launched a project which provided Hookpods for the industry to use in commercial operations. The response to Hookpods has been hugely positive with vessels reporting ZERO bycatch of seabirds without impacting on target species catch-rates.
Moving from the UK to New Zealand
In July 2020, I moved with my family to New Zealand. My wife is a New Zealander and work opportunities provided an opportunity for us to relocate from the UK to Whangārei in the north of the country. Emigrating in the middle of the global pandemic was not without its challenges but after a number of rearranged flights and two weeks of managed isolation we were able to begin our new life in New Zealand.
Friends have remarked how fortunate we are to be living in New Zealand which has responded so decisively and effectively to COVID-19 pandemic. As has been well documented, life here has been able to continue relatively normally, and we certainly have appreciated the open situation and also all that the country has to offer, particularly the outdoors lifestyle.
Hookpod in New Zealand
My focus for Hookpod remains to support marketing and operational developments but given my relocation it has provided me with an opportunity to work closely with Hookpod's partners and customers here. As well as providing a local contact point I have been able to speak with industry figures and partners during my first few months attending events and having face-to-face meetings during times when the country is a COVID alert level 1 (the loosest of restrictions).
As Hookpod continues to be adopted throughout the industry and beyond I expect to see this liaison role to grow not just in NZ but across the Pacific as needed. We are seeing Hookpod projects developed across the region and demand for both the Hookpod Mini and Hookpod LED increase. It’s an exciting time to be working with Hookpod and to be developing new ways to support our fishers and partners as they adopt Hookpod and work towards the goals of zero bycatch of seabirds.
For 2021 in New Zealand there are positive developments: We will be offering fishers an option for a Hookpod that opens at 10 metres to meet the needs of fishers who fish at shallower depths (such as for swordfish); We will be launching our new fishery-focussed website; the project with commercial fishers and the Department of Conservation continues; we hope to be working with fishers in New Zealand to develop a new Hookpod instructional video and as ever we will attend virtual and in-person conferences this year to spread the word about Hookpod and to listen to feedback from partners, customers and end-users (fishers) about their experiences of working with Hookpod.
To finish this post I would like to thank - on behalf of the Hookpod team – everyone who has helped us to get so far in getting Hookpod adopted by the pelagic longlining fleet in New Zealand. With uptake of Hookpod use we can take giant steps towards the goal of zero seabird bycatch.
Calling tuna retailers in the Pacific region
Are you a tuna retailer in New Zealand, Australia, the United States or the wider Pacific region? We are currently seeking partners from the tuna retail industry. We run projects with a number of retailers and would be happy to discuss with you how we can achieve the best possible mitigation is used in your supply chains. Please contact us for further information.