Longline Fishing in the Gulf

Longlining was introduced into the Hauraki Gulf as a method of commercial fishing in 1912. It replaced the use of single baited hooks and immediately increased catches. Longling involves setting a main line, with numerous branches lines or snoods connected to it, each containing a baited hook. Each line can hold thousands of hooks. The method was quickly adopted and is still widely used in the Hauraki Gulf. It is a labour intensive, hands-on commercial fishing method, which is targeted and can produce very high quality fish.

Longline gear
Longlining involves the use of one main line (as shown on the drum here) to which hundreds of small branch lines with hooks are attached.
longline baiting the hooks
Hooks are pre-baited and stored on boards prior to being hooked onto the longline as it runs out from the boat.

In the early 1980s a lucrative market for fresh ‘iki jime’ snapper opened up in Japan. This involved spiking the fish in the brain after capture to kill it instantly, and then putting the fish into an ice slurry to rapidly cool its temperature. This resulted in a high quality fish which fetched premium prices. Longline fishermen in the Gulf rapidly adopted the new methods, initially pioneered by Leigh Fisheries.

Longline bringing in the line
Longlining involves retrieving each fish individually. This means that a higher quality of fish can be harvested in comparison to bulk methods such as trawling and Danish seining.
Longline spiking the fish
Longline snapper are spiked in the brain immediately after capture to retain quality. Shown here is a fishermen about to use a spike on a snapper.
longline snapper in slurry
Once released from the line, the snapper are placed into an ice slurry which quickly reduces their temperature also helping to retain quality.

The fish are transported back to port on the same day, sent to the factory for packing and then quickly flown out to high value markets around the world including Australia, the USA and Europe.

Longline vessel unloading a catch at Leigh
Leigh Harbour is still a popular port for longline fishing boats. Shown here is a vessel unloading its catch into a truck for transport to the Leigh Fisheries factory in Leigh.

“Thanks to Dave Moore from Wildfish and the skipper and crew of Coral V for taking me out on a great long lining trip. I was very impressed by how hard you guys worked.”

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