By Karen Phelps for Business South magazine, December 2020
Fishing for life is a mantra that Talley’s operates its business by. It is a philosophy that encompasses sustainability in all its facets – environment and people.
“We operate in the new New Zealand generation of fishers, who have an embedded ethos of protecting fish stocks and the marine environment for life. We intimately understand the importance of a healthy marine environment and the part we play every day in conserving it. Maintaining healthy fish populations means catching what we need now and ensuring there is enough for the future. We call this Fishing for Life,” explains Talley’s new general manager fisheries Ben Holden.
He says that New Zealand’s commercial fishing is one of the most highly regulated industries and that the Fisheries Act 1996 and the NZ Quota Management System ensure the industry’s sustainability commitments are met through compliance.
Ben says that over the last 30 years the New Zealand fishing industry has focused its efforts on building up fish stocks in New Zealand’s waters and it’s been very successful.
“Our understanding and management of threats in the ocean environment is improving all the time and we always prefer to err on the side of caution when faced with decisions that affect any fish stocks,” says Ben.
Talley’s Fishing for Life policy means it has an imperative to see this continue and part of this has involved investing in the latest technologies that improve efficiencies and help vessels be more selective with their catch.
“Additionally, the new technologies on the horizon will be revolutionary, whether it be in improved catch efficiencies, fast stock assessments or geo-fencing areas of significance like juvenile grounds or special habitat. Operating in a data driven environment gives us the ability to make timely, informed and responsive decisions to changes in the abundance of fish stocks, and report these to policy makers and regulators. We have always been an active contributor at the policy table, offering our daily insight, backed by the hard data we capture,” says Ben.
Ben is also a good example of how Fishing for Life extends to helping staff create sustainable incomes for life with opportunities to progress through the system working in various roles in the different divisions. Ben started as a crewman on one of Talley’s boats out of Nelson in 2004. While on the boats he worked in various jobs, finally leaving the water to undertake a vessel management role, knowing what people resource is needed to make the boats work best. In 2017 he became operations manager at the Blenheim mussel and vegetable processing facility and two years later he became its site manager, overseeing 300 people.
Ben says his progression came from learning on the job under some great captains and great managers:
“I feel like I have almost come full circle from Nelson on the boats to Nelson looking after the boats. Talley’s is a very supportive working environment and has always backed me when I wanted to give something else in the company a go. This is part of our success. We are a team that backs its team members and is not shy to be innovative and try other, better ways of doing things.”