National | Māori Business

Sealord confirms purchase of Independent Fisheries

Fishing company Sealord has confirmed its purchase of Independent Fisheries, which will elevate it to the country’s biggest seafood business.

Sealord agreed to buy the Christchurch-based business last year.

The company today announced it had successfully completed the acquisition of Independent Fisheries, following clearance from the Commerce Commission, consent from the Overseas Investment Office and a number of conditions being satisfied.

Sealord said it was the largest financial transaction in the seafood sector since the Sealord deal in 1992 as part of the Māori Fisheries Settlement, and would make Sealord New Zealand’s biggest seafood business based on revenue.

The sale included approximately 46,000 metric tonne of quota, one chartered and two owned deepwater factory fishing vessels, more than 500 vessel crew and staff, and a cold storage facility, it said.

Sealord chair Jamie Tuuta said the deal placed Māori at the forefront of fisheries in New Zealand.

‘Major players’

“Along with the recent acquisition by our 50 percent shareholder Moana New Zealand of Sanford’s annual catch entitlement (ACE) for much of its quota of North Island inshore species, this purchase of Independent Fisheries affirms Māori as major players in New Zealand’s fishing industry,” he said.

“Māori have a strong affinity with the moana, kaimoana and fishing. The fisheries settlement allocating iwi ownership of quota, including through the purchase of 50 percent of Sealord, underpins that cultural value system. This transaction grows iwi quota ownership, enhancing our strong connection with the moana in Aotearoa.”

Independent Fisheries had humble beginnings as a small fish and chip shop in the Christchurch suburb on Linwood, founded in 1956 by Howard Shadbolt.

Since then, under the management of the late Charles Shadbolt - Howard’s son - and Mark Allison, it has grown into one of the country’s major privately-owned fishing businesses.

Within the Sealord Group, Independent Fisheries will continue to be operated by its current employees.