“After 15 years I still love working in the industry...How could anyone not like it? ”
Cruising at 25 knots through the Pelorus Sounds, Mark Hones casually grips the wheel of the Hikapu Hunter.
“Take a look around,” he says, nodding at the deep-metal blue still waters reaching out to the climbing leafy hillsides.
“This is my office.
“After 15 years I still love working in the industry.
“I enjoy getting out of bed every morning.
“How could anyone not like it?”
Hones’ enthusiasm is contagious as he steers the 10 metre, 350 horse power craft, recounting the career path that led to his current role as Aotearoa Seafoods Limited harvest manager.
As an all-rounder, Hones has worked all over the industry – even underneath it.
“I started in the industry as a construction diver putting anchors on mussel farms for five years,” he said.
After a five-year hiatus in the logging industry, Hones was ready to get serious about his career.
“I made a conscious decision about where I’d have the better future between Wine and Aquaculture,” he said.
“Obviously Aquaculture won out. It’s an innovative, environmentally friendly, distinctly Kiwi industry, producing some of the best seafood products in the world.
“But I made the decision based on enjoyment more than anything – I love being out on the water.”
Hones took up a role as an assistant farm manager on Stewart Island before joining ASL about five years ago. Now he’s out on the water at least three days a week sourcing lines for harvest.
“My job is to keep continuity to the factory,” he said.
“She needs 50 tonnes a day, my job is to go out and find her 50 tonnes a day.”
As harvest manager for the third biggest mussel producer in the area, Hones overseas about 360 hectares of farms. That’s about 1000 lines – some of which are held by anchors Hones himself installed more than a decade ago.
“Every three months I go out and pull every line that’s contracted to us – that’s 1000 lines,” he said.
“I check the size, their growth rates and where they are on the radar for harvest.”
And when it comes to mussels, it’s all about the fatness.
“I’m looking for good size, good condition and colour,” he said.
“A harvestable mussel is a fat mussel.”
By sourcing an average of two lines per day, Hones is a vital link in the chain that sees ASL process approximately 9,000 tonnes of mussels per year. n