Te Ohu Kaimoana’s 2016 Global Fisheries Scholar, Alyx Pivac, is an educated and passionate Māori woman developing a strong foundation in the seafood industry. She demonstrates a commitment to fishing and fisheries and views a career in the industry as one that allows her to express herself and her Māori culture, while making a positive contribution to the environment and society.
Alyx spent a successful year working at Japanese seafood company, Nippon Suisan Kaisha, Limited (Nissui). The elite scholarship provides the opportunity for Māori wanting to work in the fishing industry to gain international experience and is aimed at advancing skills in fisheries management aquaculture, marine biology, business management as well as fisheries and food processing.
My time at Nissui has been incredibly rewarding. I have gained valuable experience that has helped me grow both professionally and personally. It’s been a challenging year, and to be able to push myself mentally, physically and emotionally allowed me realise my potential in ways that were not available to me in New Zealand.
The Japanese working culture is famously relentless. Couple that with the challenge of a new language and culture and you become considerably adaptable and resilient.
I felt particularly inspired after spending time at the Oita Marine Research Institute, which focuses on aquaculture-based studies. Spending time with Nissui’s finfish aquaculture companies gave me an opportunity to get theoretical and practical experience in an industry niche that New Zealand is yet to fully realise. The future of aquaculture and fisheries is extremely exciting and to have the opportunity to be involved in that is invaluable.
I was provided an opportunity to discuss the challenges we face in New Zealand when it comes to aquaculture and fisheries, how it differs from the structure of Japanese fisheries, and the importance of environmental preservation and sustainable resource use. By identifying positive practices that Nissui’s fisheries based subsidiaries engage in, and outlining potential areas for improvement, I was able offer a new and unique perspective.
It is a rare and special opportunity, to be able to engage in such dialogue on an international platform, and it showed me that both the New Zealand and Japanese fishing industry, in many ways, share similar views. It’s important that as an industry we work together to marry sustainability and utilisation together and it’s encouraging to see that Nissui, a global leader in the industry, is actively taking steps to better their performance within this context.
It wasn’t just korero about kaimoana though; I gained practical experience within the sales, marketing and management teams throughout different divisions. I especially enjoyed speaking with the CSR team who do an excellent job of collaborating with customers and environmental organisations to improve public perception and engage in the sharing of honest information.
I’m inspired to bring the new knowledge and skills I have gained back to New Zealand. The way in which science and innovation is advancing means the industry has the opportunity to use these as tools to truly engage in what it means to be kaitiaki whilst functioning within a working framework. This, I think, is our challenge, and it is so exciting! I’m thrilled to be given the opportunity to be a part an industry I’m so passionate about.
I’m grateful to Te Ohu Kaimoana and Nissui for providing me with this very special experience. The GFS program is constantly evolving and I’m looking forward to see it continues to grow in the future.