Aquaculture industry pioneer and leader Rob Pooley has been recognised as a “Seafood Star” by Seafood New Zealand.

He was presented with the Longstanding Service Award recognising his long-standing service to the seafood industry at a function in Wellington tonight.

Doug Saunders-Loder the Motueka-based President of the New Zealand Federation of Commercial Fishermen was also honoured.

Rob Pooley (download photo) has had a life-long association with the seafood industry, initially as a crayfisherman in North Canterbury and for the past 40 years with the marine farming industry in the top of the South Island.

A pioneer of the marine farming industry, Rob’s father Bill gained a mussel license for off Motunau Beach in North Canterbury, where father and son were lobster and longline fishing in the 1970s. Problems working in the unsheltered, open water meant the farm was never developed.

Rob Pooley’s first foray into marine farming in the Marlborough Sounds was in partnership with Chris Godsiff and Kevin Bonnington at Rams Head in the mid 1970s. By 1981 Rob and his family were living and working in Elaine Bay. His son Simon has followed his father into the business which has interests across the top of the South Island.

Rob has served for 25 years on the Executive Committee of the Marine Farming Association, including four years as vice president and the last 16 years as president. He is also on the board of Aquaculture New Zealand.

In addition, he has served on various industry boards, supporting companies and executive committees such as the Marlborough Shellfish Quality Programme, the Mussel Industry Council, the New Zealand Aquaculture Council and Marine and General Ltd.

He is currently a director of Ngai Tahu Seafood Ltd and Ngati Koa Ltd. He is also a director of numerous seafood companies including Just Mussels Ltd, RP Holdings Ltd, Tawhitinui Greenshell Ltd, and Golden Bay Marine Farmers Consortium Ltd.

“Rob Pooley has made an enormous contribution towards the growth of aquaculture in New Zealand from its infancy to becoming the significant primary industry it is today,” says Seafood New Zealand Chief Executive Tim Pankhurst.

The inaugural Seafood Stars Awards awards are part of the industry’s celebrations to mark the 30th anniversary of the fisheries Quota Management System with awards for excellence and innovation within the industry.

“Every day in fishing communities around the country thousands of people go to work to contribute to our $1.8 billion export industry whether it’s putting to sea in our inshore fisheries, working away from home in our deepwater fisheries, working on salmon and mussel farms, or onshore processing and marketing our products,” Tim Pankhurst said.

“The awards reward innovation and excellence within our industry and recognise the contribution our diverse workforce makes to this important industry and their commitment to its ongoing sustainability.

“There are thousands of stars in our industry. Tonight we are recognising five of them.”

In addition to the Longstanding Service Award other award winners were:

Seafood Innovations - Sustainability Award:

Dave Kellian (Warkworth)

Young Achiever Award:

Adam Clow (Whitianga)

Te Tane Trinick (Queenstown)