Fishing innovator and young seafood industry leaders recognised

by | Aug 19, 2022 | News

A sustainability innovator and three people young leaders of the seafood industry were recognised at the annual Seafood New Zealand awards ceremony this week.

Zak Olsen, Cheyanne Amai, and Shalaine Jackson each took away a Young Achiever’s Award at at the annual Seafood Stars Awards which was part of this week’s Seafood New Zealand conference, held at the Rutherford Hotel in Nelson.

Zak Olsen, from Northland, is running two fishing vessels, skippering one vessel, and juggling those jobs with a huge volunteering input into the Northland community. Based in Whangarei, he is employed by Phil and Adam Clow to ensure their two fishing vessels, Tarpeena and Southern Cross are operating efficiently. Zak has also just been elected on to the Federation of Commercial Fishermen’s Executive and has completed a Young Leaders course in Australia. Zak passes his passion for the environment on to other young fishers. Previously Olsen had been recognised with a Seabird Smart award, for efforts to ensure bird safety.

Shalaine Jackson is from Nelson and the Business Manager for Guard Safety. Shalaine is putting her Master’s degree in psychology to good use by being an integral part of the MarineSafe and FirstMate initiatives that are run by Guard Safety for the commercial fishing industry.

The third recipient is Cheyanne Amai who has worked her way up in a very male-dominated industry to become branch manager of Talley’s in Westport at age 28. Cheyanne is a one-woman cheerleader for the industry on the South Island’s West Coast and her support and enthusiasm for the industry has encouraged other young people into the sector.

Talley’s was recently in the news for it’s controversial bottom-trawling methods. A subsidiary of the company was found guilty of bottom trawling in a protected conservation area of the Tasman Sea.

Seafood New Zealand chief executive, Dr Jeremy Helson, says the industry workforce is aging, many are close to retiring, and we must value the talented young people coming through. “Zak, Shalaine, and Cheyanne’s commitment to the commercial fishing industry is great to see. They invigorate the industry, bring new ideas, and new enthusiasm and we are lucky to have them”, says Helson. “While we would normally only award one Young Achiever’s Award each year, these three people are exceptional, and we need to do all we can to encourage them and others like them.

Also on the night, an award for innovation went to trail blazer Greg Summerton of Okain’s Bay Seafood in Lyttleton. Summerton is the recipient of the 2022 Future Development Innovations Award.

Summerton, through his four companies, was an early adopter of biofuels, the first to become carbon neutral, and a champion for finding markets for lesser-known seafood. He has scoured the world looking for innovative solutions and, as a result, his vessel Kawatea has gone from an already efficient long liner to a more sustainable pot-catching vessel.

Seafood New Zealand chief executive, Dr Jeremy Helson, says Summerton was driven by his ambition to have zero-bycatch, bring live fish to the surface, and have an increased catch while lessening sea floor interactions.

“Greg Summerton has led the way because of his conviction that improvements to fishing can always be made. His single-minded pursuit of innovative ideas has seen him become a leader in his field and the industry owes him a vote of thanks for the commitment he has shown. “It is a real pleasure to recognise his work with this award, as it is very well deserved. Greg believes that buyers of his fish are looking for honesty and integrity from their supplier and was quick to learn that a commitment to sustainability resulted in a premium price for his seafood.” says Helson. “His contribution to this industry is significant”.

In related news: Bottom feeders delayed for a while by crocheting protesters

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