Seafood NZ’s Promise 2020 roadshow kicked off in Nelson, Australasia’s largest fishing port, last Friday.

Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese, who features in the current industry television advertisement on the importance of the seafood sector to communities throughout New Zealand, was an enthusiastic supporter.

“It is fantastic to welcome Seafood NZ back to Nelson/Wakatu,” she said in a video interview.

“Seafood NZ is a key partner for our region.

“Today I’ve been catching up with the industry, what the issues are and what concerns they have and also their aspirations.

“Every time I meet with the industry I’m really impressed with their focus on innovation, the changes they are making that are good for their business, good for the environment and achieving a real interest in careers and prosperity for our region.

“It’s a fantastic industry with great career choices. I know there will be some more work done on that and I’m really happy to support that in our region.”

Reese also had a bouquet for her local fish retailer, Guytons on Wakefield Quay.

“I’m a big fish eater. I like my fish. I’m a convert.

"It was so nice to go down to Guytons to and get our Friday fish and there it was packaged, no more plastic.

“They’ve transferred across to a sealed paper package, totally recyclable, so well done Guytons. Great result.”

The Promise campaign was launched in 2017 aimed at improving the reputation of the seafood industry and building trust with the New Zealand public.

It was backed by a Code of Conduct and the admission that while we hadn’t always got it right, we were committed to improving industry performance across a range of measures.

About 25 fishers and staff turned out at Trailways to hear from Seafood NZ chair Craig Ellison, communications manager Lesley Hamilton and Fisheries Inshore chief executive Jeremy Helson, while communications assistant Emily Pope shot video for the SNZ website.

The discussion included a review of public attitudes towards the seafood industry conducted by the Nielsen research company.

That showed that despite relentless criticism from the anti-commercial fishing lobby, there were substantial positive lifts in recognition that our fishery is sustainable and that the Quota Management System is world leading in preserving fish stocks.

Those who had seen the Promise advertisements highlighting communities, careers, innovation and marine protection were favourably influenced about the seafood industry and its contribution.

This year’s approach is turning a promise into a commitment – “we’re doing this, rather than we’re going to be doing this” – providing examples around sustainability, engagement and accountability.

This support is vital for an industry that provides employment, healthy food, substantial export returns and also a big contribution to the domestic market.

The roadshow visited New Plymouth yesterday where local fishers are facing being forced out of business if further restrictions are imposed to supposedly protect Maui and Hector dolphins.

A renewed threat management plan is currently being considered by the Government.

Significant set net and trawling restrictions are already in place, despite none of the endangered Maui dolphins being seen in the area, let alone caught.

Lively discussion included too much fish (especially snapper and kingfish) and not enough Annual Catch Entitlement, punishing deemed values, historic shelved fishing cuts termed 28N Rights and ideology subsuming science in dolphin protection at the expense of commercial fishers.

Lyttelton will be the next port of call – on April 3 at the Naval Point Yacht Club.

Then follows Tauranga on May 1 at the Sebel Trinity Wharf and Invercargill/Bluff on May 22 at Ascot Park.