Crayfish

Splashzone fish for approximately 35 tonne of crayfish every year. 4 tonne quota owned, 31 tonne leased from Gisborne Fisheries.

The total catch is split between Gisborne, ‘Pearler’, Whangaehu, ‘Lucy C’ and the Wairarapa, Splashzone II out of Flat Point.

Most of the New Zealand crayfish catch goes to China, prices peeking around the times of Chinese celebrations, holidays, festivals, with weekly price fluctuations of $10 a kilo or more. Some use holding pots to try and keep crayfish over the fluctuations. Splashzone have installed 1½ tonne live holding tanks, which require replenishment of fresh sea water, setting of a live bug to clear contaminants, 24 hour pumping to keep the water oxygen infused.

From these tanks around the country crayfish are transported to holding tanks at Key locations where they will be chilled to lower the metabolism and flown to their Chinese destination to be put on live display. The industry has come a long way from the local cray fisherman tailing crayfish on the beaches and freezing the tails.

“It is all about having options” – Splashzone Owner Richard

A Ford County pulls out Lucy and her catch

As Richie says, fishing is the easy part. Watching prices, talking to the industry and brokers, keeping the product up and in good condition at the right time, keeping enough quota up to the crews to keep them going are mostly what keep Richard and Jean occupied.

Crayfishing can be a stressful time due to price fluctuation, scarcity and weather. Early 2014 the price dropped from record highs of around $120.00 kilo to $70.00. “Is it going to keep going down or go up again?” if so will the price stay there?

Richard is one of the few smaller boat fisherman to have the versatility in his boats that if they cannot make the boat pay with current crayfish prices they can easily go wet fishing until prices improve. Not only does it help keep stress levels down it also helps keep the boats working, the crews employed and the bottom line improving.

Hence a new boat, the Jeany K, for Whangaehu as the Lucy C does not have the versatility that both ‘Splashzone II’ at Flat Point Wairarapa and ‘Pearler’ at Gisborne both have.

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