Respecting fish is at the core of the Kai Ika project which started as a pilot project at the Outboard Boating Club in Whakatakataka Bay (Tamaki Drive) in partnership with Legasea and Papatuanuku Kokiri Marae in Mangere.
In just over three years the project has seen over 50 tonnes of fish collected and utilised by the Marae’s healthy food community programme. This impressive feat would not have been possible without buy-in from the Outboard Boating Club’s (OBC) nearly 2000 members of recreational boaties.
Struggling with fish waste, Legasea initially developed a solution by partnering with Papatuanuku Kokiri Marae which had award-winning recognition for its healthy food programme to lessen their community’s reliance on junk food by providing healthy vegetables grown at the marae. The OBC completed the equation by providing the fish caught by its members.
Dedicated fridges were installed at a purpose-built filleting station at the club so that members could safely preserve offcuts, heads, frames and offal for collection by the marae. The heads of fish are highly prized rangatira kai or ‘chiefly food’ by Maori and Pacific peoples, while fish frames and offcuts can be turned into delicious soups and stews. The offal is high-quality fertilizer used in the vegetable gardens and kumara beds.
Recognised as a runner-up in the Sustainable Business Awards, the Kai Ika project is now expanding to Westhaven Marina and Wellington, with Legasea providing assistance to other clubs wishing to fish more sustainably.
The project has generated great pride at the OBC where it is being a catalyst for more sustainable fishing practices that includes greater respect in the handling and treatment of the fish resource.
The club’s ongoing education into sustainable fish handling techniques and equipment all contributes significantly to its international Blue Flag environmental programme which had brought nation-wide accolades.
Blue Flag certification makes the OBC part of a prestigious international environmental auditing system for marinas, boat clubs and beaches operating in 45 countries. Independent annual audits check the club’s operating procedures over 40 different aspects relating to sustainability, safety and education. The OBC was recently recognised with a Supreme Best Practice Award at the national Keep New Zealand Beautiful Awards.
OBC Commodore Bill Berry explains the club’s motivation for Kai Ika, Blue Flag and their extensive environmental efforts, “The environment that our members treasure, the Hauraki Gulf, is right on our doorstep, it inspired a group of volunteers to pitch in and create our early facilities, whilst setting strong safety standards to ensure club members always acted safely and responsibly. The same principle now applies to our environmental responsibilities too. We know that if our families want to keep enjoying the Hauraki Gulf for generations to come then we must not only look after ourselves but also the environment. We’re proud of the efforts we make and hope to inspire other clubs and the boating community to follow our example and are happy to share our knowledge”.
The OBC supports numerous grassroots environmental efforts including Motuihe Trust (for 18 years and counting), Revive the Gulf, and coastal cleanup events, as well as supporting scientific studies on Orca, mussel beds, microplastics and water quality. The club also provides ongoing support and complimentary storage for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter, Police, Harbourmaster, Auckland Council, Surf Lifesaving as well as for marine events when required.