At dawn on Anzac Day, a closely coordinated, special operation was initiated.
Five fishing boats – the Sea Emerald, Boadicea, Extender, Amazon and Zayla-Jay – were ready and waiting in the Fiords. At first light, they unloaded 6.8 tonnes of lobsters. Choppers took the lobsters across the mountains of Fiordland National Park, in eight trips, directly to the Te Anau-Manapouri Airport.
On touchdown, the lobsters were transferred by Fiordland Lobster staff across the tarmac and onto a waiting chartered aircraft. When the hold was full, the Air Chathams aircraft lifted off and flew to Auckland.
On arrival, Fiordland Lobster staff collected the precious cargo, and had the lobsters back underwater at the company’s Auckland facility by 3 pm. Ready to be exported in time for the Chinese “May Day” celebrations.
The special operation shortened the supply chain, and lifted pressure from the Te Anau and Christchurch factories, at a crucial time when the market was strong and fishing was good. It took a lot of coordination by many people, and is only the second time we’ve done it. Both times have been very successful in supporting our dedicated fishers and loyal Chinese importers at such a time.
It’s a credit to the dedicated people who make something similar happen around the clock, every day, so that wild-caught lobsters travel from the sea floor to Shanghai restaurant tanks, alive. And somehow it seemed appropriate for Anzac Day.