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Commercial fishing nets that have reached the end of their working life in New Zealand waters are sent overseas for a new purpose. 

In an initiative between Sealord and Motueka Nets, tonnes of expired nylon fishing nets will be shipped to Spain where they will be repurposed to make other products, including ropes used in mussel farming. It ends a long search by Sealord for a feasible waste-reduction solution to prevent the nets ending up in the region’s landfill.

The company had previously made the nets available for trials as a stabilisation mesh for riverbank plants, or as silage pit covers, but this had not worked out. Other options were limited because of the composition of the nets – nylon, polyethylene and steel. It means that without being dismantled the nets aren’t fit for other purposes.

That's where family owned business Motueka Nets comes in. The company has carved out a national and international reputation for making and repairing nets at its Port Nelson base. The experienced team there have a wealth of specialist net-making skills that can also be applied to dismantling them.

The polyethylene ropes are given away for use on farms, and the steel work is recycled in Nelson.  Being able to recycle the nylon nets offshore completed the circle for the company which made the midwater trawl nets for Sealord. The cut-up nylon nets were ideal for the mussel industry.


Sealord people care for the sea. We try to tread lightly on the marine environment by making sure we don’t leave any fishing gear behind and by reducing plastic use.

We have reduced plastic use is by starting to box our tinned tuna in cardboard rather than plastic wrap, in 2021. This has removed 20,000 kg of plastic packaging from New Zealand waste streams, and we plan to reduce plastic wrap use in other parts of our business.

We have replaced polystyrene cups with compostable cups and intend to remove 1 million plastic spoons from our tuna snack product range. We will continue to reduce the thickness of any plastics we do use, recycle our soft plastics onsite in New Zealand and Australia and are on track with our overall plastic reduction targets.

Both on our land-based sites and on our vessels we have programs in place to recycle (or divert) as much waste from landfill. We have targets in place for all of our staff to incentivise these changes. 

In 2023 we recycled 55 per cent of our waste, and we aim to increase this to 80 per cent by 2030.

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an international non-profit on a mission to end overfishing by setting the world’s leading standards for sustainable fishing and seafood supply chain assurance.

The MSC blue fish tick label indicates sustainable seafood that comes from an MSC-certified sustainable fishery, which has been independently assessed by scientists to demonstrate:

  1. Healthy populations of fish
  2. Impacts on ecosystems minimised
  3. Responsible and effective fisheries management         

We’re proud that the New Zealand Hoki Fishery was the first white fish fishery in the world to be certified to the MSC standard for a well-managed and sustainable fishery.  Our orange roughy, ling, hake and southern blue whiting fisheries are now also MSC certified.


Within our operations area, Sealord uses water as part of our processing operations – for example when filleting fish and daily clean-down processes. We recognise that water is a valuable resource that must not be wasted.

Sealord will comply with all relevant regulations with regards to use of, and discharging of, water. We will also measure water usage to minimise our use in operations. We are looking to develop water recycling programs where appropriate on all Sealord sites.

In 2023, we have installed low pressure shower heads in our toilet blocks, we have replaced a clean down machine that reduces both water consumption and lower heating required, and we have installed water meters across the land-based factories to pinpoint where water is being used. Our goal is to reduce our water consumption by 15% over the next two years.

New Zealand Quota Management System (QMS)

The Quota Management System (QMS) has been operating in New Zealand for over 30-years, solidifying New Zealand's reputation as a world leader in sustainable fisheries management.

The Ministry for Primary Industries is responsible for managing this framework by setting annual catch limits for all quota species.

It is one of the most extensive quota-based fisheries management system in the world, with over 100-species managed within this framework.

A world-leading framework underpinning our sustainable fisheries management.

Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP)

Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) is an international, third-party certification system that verifies environmentally and socially responsible processes under which finfish, crustaceans and mussels are produced.

BAP certification standards contain the key elements of responsible aquaculture, including environmental responsibility, social responsibility, food safety, animal health and welfare, and traceability.

Our sustainability credentials have set the bar globally at our barramundi farm, King Reef in Northern Queensland and salmon farm Petuna, in Tasmania.

King Reef is the only barramundi farm in Australia that has the BAP certification, while Petuna is the only company that has the BAP certification in both Atlantic Salmon and Ocean Trout.

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