|SCOTT HAMMOND/The Marlborough Express
WATERLINE WORK: Crewman Daniel Moran works on the waterline as the mussel line is hauled out of the water.
After a three month break, Aotearoa Seafoods started harvesting again earlier this month and will go through until about July next year.
Shorty McLeod and Dan Moran have perhaps the toughest job on the harvester, working on the waterline getting the buoys out of the water and scraping off the blue mussels and seaweed. Mussels are not the only things that come up attached to the lines — there is also plenty of seaweed and driftwood stuck in the lines as the boat inches along, pulled along by the ropes being lifted from the water.
Aotearoa Seafoods is a $40 million business that exports to 40 countries. At its seasonal peak it employs about 180 people, processing at Riverlands about 9000 tonnes of mussels each year, 85 percent of which is exported.
In the water the harvester attracts a small flotilla of other boats — fishermen lining up to drop their lines —as the harvester apparently attracts fish underneath, feeding on the material that falls into the water.