• $1.9bn
    Export Revenue for Year Ending June 2022
  • 35%
    Of all seafood products are exported to China year to June 2022
  • 16,482
    Individuals worked in the Seafood industries across 2020
  • 1080
    Learners enrolled in Seafood in 2021


The people of Aotearoa have long drawn on the ocean as a source of food. Māori have a deep relationship with the sea and Tangaroa, the god of the sea and fish, and had many customs and practices around fishing. Europeans were slower to take up fishing in Aotearoa, but did find an interest in naming many local fish species after those they were familiar with, such as cod and herring. In 1992 a Tiriti o Waitangi settlement was reached, allocating Māori quota of some commercial fishing grounds, as well as $150 million to enable Māori to purchase half of Sealord Products Ltd. and the establishment of Te Ohu Kaimoana. 

Māori continue to have significant investments in the Seafood industry, with over $2.9 billion as at 2018. Within the Seafood sub-industries, Māori own a large market share of fishing (63%), with approximately 27% of all quota by volume and value owned by Māori. Ownership is not just limited to quota, as Māori have significant investment in aquaculture and land-based processing operations, including Moana NZ (100% Māori ownership) and Sealord Group Ltd. (50% Māori ownership). An estimated 29% of businesses in the industry are Māori owned. 

The Seafood industry includes aquaculture, fishing, seafood processing and fish and seafood wholesaling (Maritime and Marine Operations, Stevedoring and Ports, Water Freight Boat Building and Maintenance, and Marine Technology do not fall under the remit of Muka Tangata). In 2020 we counted nearly 16,500 people in the Seafood industry, with around 16% of the workforce on work and work holiday visas, and an ethnically diverse workforce including 25% Māori, 15% Asian, and 8% Pacific peoples.

The Seafood industry is highly regionalised, presenting an opportunity for economic and workforce development outside the main economic centres. The industry also represents a potential growth area for the Aotearoa economy, with seafood exports valued at $1.9 billion in 2022 and forecast to increase by 5% to $2 billion in 2022/2023. Despite forecasted growth, the industry is grappling with some significant challenges, including a heavy reliance on a migrant workforce, mitigating the impacts of climate change on the industry, and a decrease in the number of learners enrolled in vocational education relating to seafood. 

2024 Investment Advice

Muka Tangata provides advice to TEC on investment in vocational education to influence funding decisions that considers industry needs, to help match skills and workforce demands with supply.

Learn more


We highlight the current key priorities and opportunities for each industry, and links back to the supporting evidence base to show why they have been selected as a priority. These opportunities will be updated on an ongoing basis as our understanding of the industry evolves and deepens.

This is our plan to address the opportunities that arose from our engagement, research and analysis. It includes real actions that we are committed to delivering – these are both industry specific and cross-cutting actions across all industries in the food and fibre sector where common themes emerged.

It includes broader areas or dependencies where external parties will need to provide input into solutions with Muka Tangata support; for example, advocacy, engagement, collaboration, and provision of specific expertise or data. We will work in collaboration with those who will need to take the lead in this area. This section will test potential solutions that we’re working on and seek feedback and input into them.