Iwi leaders discuss combining fisheries assets for the future

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

Iwi leaders from around the Waiariki region want to make the most of their combined fisheries assets for both domestic and international markets.

Potential aquaculture opportunities have been identified for development and were discussed at a hui in Rotorua.

This discussion was not just limited to the iwi leaders of the Waiariki region, as Te Arawa Fisheries chief executive Chris Karamea Insley explains.

"We also had iwi from across the country and we had people from the First Nations in Canada and other parts of the world joining us, to review a piece of work that we've been doing for the past six months, to have a look at what the prospects and opportunity for aquaculture are."

Going through what some of those opportunities look like after reading the first report, Karamea Insley says, "There are species of fish that we know and the technology has been well developed, so they [experts] have assessed there is a strong demand for some of these species like the mussels that are being grown by Te Whakatōhea, but there are also Kingfish species and a variety of other species.

"Really the point now is how do we refine that and do all the heavy lifting to refine that down to one of the priority areas for us."

Chris also took some of the lessons people from around the world have learned. "Wild stock fisheries are under threat: They're either being overfished or affected by climate change or some other drivers have been affecting the availability. It isa no brainer that we have to look at alternative sources of protein because the demand for protein around the world has gone up. 

"We stand to benefit from everything that our own whānau have learned over the past 25 years or so; that helps us inform what we could or should not be doing."