Environmental Impacts

Seafood is our business. We are passionate about ensuring the sustainable management of the species that constitute our livelihood. This includes the protection and enhancement of supporting ecosystems and bird life.

Protected Species and Incidental Catch

Accidental by-catch is an unfortunate consequence of our industry, and we are very serious about reducing our impact as much as possible. We constantly promote awareness, deploy mitigations, and work to improve our systems and methods to reduce interactions with non-target and protected species. Together with the wider New Zealand seafood industry, we maintain operational procedures across our vessels that extend beyond the already extensive government regulations to reduce unwanted interactions.

SLEDs are solid stainless steel grids inserted into the trawl net that allow sea lions to escape unharmed when they encounter the grid. Scientific observations have proved that SLEDs direct the majority of sea lions out of the net, the small number of sea lions that are still caught are recorded as protected species by-catch.

​Collaborating on Endangered Species​

Sanford has a long history of working with other organisations on the management and protection of our oceans and protected indigenous ocean species.

Māui dolphin

Māui dolphin is the world's rarest and smallest marine dolphin. They are only found off the west coast of New Zealand's North Island in relatively shallow waters.

The population is so dangerously low that the species is on the brink of extinction. The last survey estimated that there are less than 63 dolphins over the age of one year.

Sanford and Moana New Zealand want to see a future where the Māui dolphin population rebounds and expands. Together, and with the Government and WWF, we have supported the Māui63 programme to develop a fixed wing drone with on-board AI to detect, count, and record data on Maui dolphin and their habitat. This data will contribute toward improving the scientific understanding of these dolphins and their habitat. We have a responsibility to do everything possible to further reduce fishing-related threats to their survival.

Black Petrel Seabird and Fisher Working Group

Each spring the Black Petrel (tāiko) returns home to breed on Great Barrier and Little Barrier Islands in the Hauraki Gulf. In 2014, the Ministry for Primary Industries ‘National Plan of Action for Seabird’ identified Black Petrel as the seabird most at risk from fishing activity.

In response, Southern Seabird Solutions invited Sanford to take part in a collaborative working group of commercial and recreational fishers, charter fishing companies, environmental groups, government agencies, local bodies and iwi. This group has challenged itself to implement best practice seabird mitigation measures, to achieve continuous improvement in the reduction of Black Petrel fishing related mortalities.

Sanford is committed to helping ensure the survival of the Black Petrel and we have a range of initiatives to make sure all our fishers are seabird-smart on the water. Our fishers are proud to be a part of this group and we believe that this kind of stakeholder collaboration could result in the successful management of other key protected species.

Sanford has a proven history of environmental leadership across its operations in New Zealand including:

  • Maintaining ISO 14001 environmental certification across its New Zealand operations since 2000
  • Leading with transparent data, targets, and results by publicly reporting on our environmental, social, and economic performance using best practice sustainability reporting standards (Global Reporting Initiative)
  • Actively engaging with the New Zealand Government Primary Growth Partnership to develop a new wildfish harvesting technology, Precision Seafood Harvesting, that will allow more precise catches and allow fish to be landed fresher and in better condition
  • Working collaboratively with marine restoration groups such as the Mussel Reef Restoration trust to restore lost natural mussel reef ecosystems in the Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds
  • Reducing our waste to landfill volume by over 50% between 2020 and 2023

Shark Policy

In response to global concern associated with shark finning, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has made it illegal (from 1 October 2014) for a commercial fisher to remove the fins from any shark and discard the trunk at sea.

Sanford’s Shark Policy requires all our vessels and fishers and fishing companies that we do business with to maintain full legal compliance. New Zealand shark stocks are among the best managed and well-studied in the world. New Zealand manages commercial catches of 11 shark species in the Quota Management System, which sets catch limits based on stock assessments, monitoring at sea and long term sustainability targets. Additionally, we always uphold animal welfare legislation and do not condone cruel practices such as live finning under any circumstances.

Zero Fish Waste

Sanford maintains an approach that no part of the harvest should be wasted. This means that we place effort, energy, and investment into innovating, scaling and commercialising beneficial and high value uses for marine trimmings. This has resulted in our promoting of sales channels for fish heads and trimmings for popular species, developing new products, nutraceuticals, fertilisers, pet-foods, fishmeal, and fish oil production.

Sustainability Reporting

Sanford are committed to transparency in our sustainability approach, targets, metrics and progress. This is done by utilising global best practice reporting standards issued by the Global Reporting Initiative. Sanford’s integrated reporting efforts have been regularly recognised as award winners at the Australasian Reporting Awards (ARA), as well as by CPA (Chartered Practicing Accountants) Australia at their integrated reporting awards.

Recently, New Zealand became the first jurisdiction to mandate large listed companies and financial institutions to disclose climate related processes and progress in connection with governance, strategy, risks, and metrics. It’s a significant undertaking to perform the scope and scale of work required to meet the disclosure requirements. Our Sanford team got together back in 2022 to put into action a work-plan which resulted in Sanford preparing an aligned disclosure one full year ahead of its mandatory timeline. If you would like to know what risks and opportunities Climate Change presents to Sanford’s business and what we plan to do about them, see our latest Annual Report