PORT OF LEIGH: The town of Leigh is a small village at Cape Rodney on the North Island of New Zealand with a population of about 750 people. Approximately 20% of the inhabitants work for Leigh Fisheries.
The factory hires roughly 30 full time employees with an additional 60 employees working on the 30 vessels fishing out of the port of Leigh.
FISHING FLEET: In total Lee Fish has 100 fishing vessels, 30 from the port of Leigh and the balance registered at various ports around the North Island.
These longliners typically do 6–24 hour trips, fishing at depths of between 20–100 m. A typical longliner will set roughly 800 m of mainline.
Attached to this is a strut or branch-line with a single hook and bait on the end of it. These struts are clipped on every 2 m. The fishermen allow for 20 minutes before backing up the line.
As the mainline is hauled aboard, the fish come up alive one at a time and are taken care of individually.
CAREFUL PROCESSING (IKI-JIME):One by one the hooked fish are brought aboard the boat alive and placed onto a sponge pad before being spiked directly in the brain, which causes an instant and painless death.
This is called “Iki-Jime”, a process which kills the fish instantly, preserving freshness and taste. This technique draws all the blood to the gut cavity, away from the meat of the fish, resulting in a much cleaner tasting fillet. The muscles stop moving which keeps the fish from expending energy.
In turn, this deters a buildup of lactic acid, preserving the fish’s great taste. The fish gently enter a prolonged state of rigor mortis and their shelf-life is greatly extended. This means that our fish arrive to the customer in that perfect “just-caught” state.
THE IKI-BIN: The Fish are now carefully packed into a small plastic box known as “Iki-Bin”. Each Iki-Bin has a layer of ice on the bottom.
The fish are then placed onto the ice belly down first so that the ice does not cause any discolouration and/or ice burns. Each Iki-Bin holds roughly 12 kg of fish.
Once the lid is closed, this plastic box functions as a mini refrigerator holding fish temperatures between 0–2° C. The Iki-Bins are then stacked in the haul of the vessel.
FACTORY PROCESSING: On the boat’s arrival into the port there is always a re-frigerated truck waiting to receive the day’s catch.
The Iki-Bins are loaded onto the trucks and taken to the factory.
The fish are then sorted and graded into sizes by expert graders and carefully hand-packed into Styrofoam boxes. At all times, gloves are worn to prevent any body heat from warming the fish.
Once the fish are packed in the box, a layer of plastic is placed over it and a bag containing crushed saltwater ice is spread on top.
The method of packing the fish is called “soldier style” and is an ideal method for transportation that prevents any kind of damage to the fish.
AUCKLAND BOUND: Once the shipments are completed, the Styrofoam boxes are loaded into our own refrigerated trucks…
…for their two-hour trip down to our state-of-the-art cargo agent’s facility located at the Auckland International Airport.
CARGO AGENT: GV International have been working with Lee Fish for more than 15 years and know the importance of delivering fish to their clients on time and in perfect condition.
At their cargo facility the fish are then quickly sorted according to their final destinations and within a few hours are loaded into airline shipping containers and dispatched to destinations all around the world.
DELIVERING QUALITY: It takes a great team and a lot of hard work from the fisherman to your sales contact to provide you with the freshest possible product from the other side of the world.
A typical journey from New Zealand to our European clients is roughly 28 hours, so we are proud to announce that from catch to door we can deliver you the best quality fresh within 36 hours.