Harbour Fish is a family-owned business that started in a shop in Port Chalmers 17 years ago. The brothers Cooper – Damon and Aaron, have never looked back.
Damon is the fisher of the two with Aaron providing oversight of the day to day running of the business.
Harbour Fish started at the farmers market within a few weeks of the market starting. They loved it and sold more at the market over a 4 hour period that they did 3 days in the shop. Back then blue cod was the southern fish of preference and whilst it is still a firm favourite, tastes have expanded, and people are enjoying a much wider range of fish. With the blue cod fisheries being reduced by 30% a concerted education process has awakened people to the virtues of other fish species such as gurnard and monk fish. The plethora of cooking shows that we all seem to enjoy has also helped educate people to different fish types and how to cook them.
While Harbour Fish has grown into a two shop, 2 factory, mid-sized fishing company the values of the company have remained firmly focused on sustainability, supporting local, community, quality and family.
Aaron and Damon take their responsibility seriously and are active members of governing bodies, Blue Cod 5 and others to help manage the fisheries so that our children and their children can still enjoy wild caught fish.
This inter-generational sense of care and responsibility extends through out this business. Fishing families tend to run deep with boats moving from one generation to another. Some of the same families have owned the local fleets for generations.
Harbour Fish see themselves as managers of the fishing resource. They are fully supportive of the quota management system and see that since its inception fisheries have just got stronger and more sustainable. They manage all the quotas and ensure that their entire fleet of fishers are supported to do the best they can.
Fisheries are at the mercy of nature. Climate change is impacting the temperature of the sea which in turn impacts what type of fish will thrive in certain settings. The industry must remain nimble to work with nature rather than fighting it. Net mesh sizes have got bigger allowing smaller fish to escape and the quality of the fish caught improved.
Only one skip a week of waste is taken away from the Sawyers Bay factory these days. Much more of the fish is used. Chefs buy up the frames for stock and people are cottoning on to cooking whole fish and using all parts of it. What is left is converted to fish fertiliser, a natural organic way to nurture soil.
Harbour Fish love the farmers market. When they are able they supply whole fish and the popularity of this is obvious at 6.30am every Saturday when people start queuing in the hope that they will have whole moki, cod and other species.