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Giant NZ Bluefin Tuna To Hit China’s TV Screens


One of the Chinese TV crew gets a closer look
It might be all bad news on the Chinese milk powder front for New Zealand, but 19 million fishing fans in China are about to be treated to the sight of monster fishing off the West Coast of the South Island.
In a charter boat out of Westport, the Chinese TV crew caught four Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis) - that if they ever got to the Tokyo fish auctions would sell, depending on condition and tuna supply, for about USD 20,000 each.
But for charter skipper Lance Goodhew of Encounter Fishing, it was a case of telling the Chinese crew to start slicing it all up for steaks and sashimi.
“We’re recreational, we would be in very big trouble if we sold it,” he said.
“I joked with them that their tuna steaks were USD 1000 meals.”
The Pacific bluefin are attracted to the West Coast by the millions of spawning hoki at this time of year.
Also attracted to hoki are major fishing companies.
Goodhew says the fishing boats seldom take tuna as a by-catch.
 “These tuna are way too fast for them.”
They’ve been clocked doing upwards of 50kmh.
In this part of the world no-one has a quota for Pacific bluefin, so it is left to recreational operators.
The Chinese television crew who went out at the weekend to film a chase “got more than what they bargained for with the first fish ripping them off their feet and around the cockpit like ragdolls”.
After a two-hour tussle they pulled in a 285kg first fish for the season.
Three hours later they got another and before tagging and releasing, they estimated it was 250kg. Another at 260kg was tagged and released.
Two nights later they got another one, at 272kg.
“Sadly the fish died in the fight and came to the boat with no life, so we pulled aboard.”
The International Game Fish Association says the all-tackle game fish record was a 325kg individual caught off New Zealand in 1997.
In December last year, a 222kg Pacific bluefin tuna caught off north eastern Japan was sold at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo for a record NZ$2.18 million.