New Zealand company NewFish is combining a love of kaimoana with a passion for sustainability to create innovative seafood that doesn’t harm the planet.
Co-founder Hamish Howard joined Business is Boring for a chat.
Overfishing of our oceans has been happening for decades now, and the effects are being felt around the world as fish populations dwindle and ecosystems are ruined. Popular documentaries like Seaspiracy have put the issue on the world stage, but for many cultures, simply cutting out kaimoana is not an option. So what’s the solution?
Hamish Howard realised there must be a way to create seafood products that didn’t harm the planet without compromising on taste. His brand NewFish has entered the kaimoana market with their pāua saucisson, a charcuterie sausage that uses the very best of New Zealand pāua, pork and algae.
Howard has big aspirations to reimagine New Zealand’s seafood industry and change food production systems for the better. He joined Simon Pound on Business is Boring to talk about his journey to business owner, and big plans for the industry.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Simon Pound: With a background in the fishing industry and a degree in marine biology, what led you back to study and to wanting to do what you’re doing with NewFish?
Hamish Howard: Ultimately, my passion really is about understanding how New Zealand’s fisheries are managed and how I could play a role in improving what is a great industry, but one that can certainly achieve a lot more. NewFish is a future food startup with a focus on reimagining New Zealand’s seafood and really changing our food production systems for the better.
What does it mean to “reimagine seafood”?
For us, reimagining seafood is about exploring the full potential of New Zealand’s kaimoana, whether that be through the development and commercialisation of world’s first products that realise the true value of what we already harvest, or perhaps more importantly, by exploring new seafood products from our moana.
How does NewFish plan to do this?
We hope to change our food production systems for the better by creating new products that add value to existing waste streams or low value export commodities by embracing a philosophy of full utilisation. We also hope to change our food production systems for the better by helping to build a globally relevant regenerative seaweed and microalgae industry that will contribute to a truly sustainable blue economy here in New Zealand.
There’s so much more water than there is land in our territory, so things like microalgae farming seem to make a lot of sense for a country with New Zealand’s resources.
Absolutely. We’ve got a huge marine estate and the lack of aquaculture happening in New Zealand outside of salmon farming and green lipped mussel and oyster farming is fairly minimal. So the potential there is huge. We know we’ve got roughly 1,000 species of native New Zealand seaweeds, and then micro algae is undoubtedly an even larger number, but it’s a bit of an unknown just because there’s been so little attention paid to it.
What other products do you have in development and where do things like microalgae and macroalgae come into it?
In terms of macroalgae, our plan is really to support the growth of an industry here in New Zealand. And that means being a company who produces products using seaweed. On the microalgae side of things, we’re currently partnering with the Cawthron Institute, New Zealand’s largest marine science organisation, which is based in Nelson, and as part of that project we’re also partnering with a really forward-thinking engineering firm hoping to design some solutions for growing microalgae.
When you say you’re using “waste streams” – your first product is like quite a fancy pāua sausage, so it’s adding a lot of value.
The NewFish pāua saucisson is a naturally fermented French-style salami made from the highest quality New Zealand ingredients we can get our hands on. So wild blackfoot pāua is really the hero ingredient. However, we also use freefarmed Kurobuta pork, which is the Wagyu beef of pork, and other ingredients such as native Pacific kelp, which is harvested down in Akaroa. It’s a really interesting recipe and product that really celebrates some of New Zealand’s best products and ingredients.
How is pāua currently processed?
Blackfoot pāua is endemic to New Zealand, meaning that it’s found nowhere else in the world. Furthermore, our pāua stocks are generally well managed with all pāua harvested by freedivers from amazing locations throughout New Zealand. However, the vast majority of New Zealand’s pāua harvest is currently bleached, using fairly nasty chemicals and sulfites, and canned for export. The purpose of them carrying out this process is essentially to make it look like other species of abalone.
At NewFish we feel there’s a real opportunity rather than bleaching and canning our pāua, to really take pride in it and market it as the unique ingredient that it is.
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Article originally posted by The Spinoff.
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