Tai Snapper is actually not a snapper at all. It is a pink sea bream, or porgy, in the Sparidae family. The snapper title, according to legend, was given to this fish mistakenly by renowned eighteenth century British navigator Captain James Cook. With its pink and silvery scales, it does bear a close resemblance to the American Red Snapper, a common fish in Atlantic waters, which likely explains the confusion. Market Names for this fish also include "New Zealand Red (or Gold) Snapper."
Most Tai Snappers are wild caught on longlines in the cold waters between New Zealand and Japan, where this fish has attained its greatest popularity (ours hail from dayboat inshore catches in the waters of Northern New Zealand). The Japanese revere it as one of the best-tasting fish in the sea. The word "tai" in Japanese means "good fortune" - and is often served there at celebratory feasts from New Year to weddings, and even the birth of a child. It is fortunate for us all that this delicious fish is flown in fresh from New Zealand, and is always of high quality.
Product Lifecycle - Sea to Plate
* Each long-line boat fishes between 6 to 24 hours for Tai and other in-shore bi-catch
* The line is lowered into the sea and the skilled fishermen have to determine what the optimum depth of each strut should be and depending on the type of fishing, how far each strut is spaced. Once the line is in the water the fishermen waits about half an hour before the back up boat reels in the line and removes the fish from the hooks. There is a delicate balance to bringing in the catch alive while still trying to give the fish adequate time to bite the hooks.
* Each individual fish is taken off the hook and placed on a thick foam pad. A spike is plunged into the fish's brain, typically on the right side ensuring instant death. This very important Japanese technique is known as "Iki jime" which when translated into English means "to kill alive". The Ikijime method kills the fish instantly minimizing the stress put on the fish and accelerates the rigor mortis process
* Immediately after the fish has been spiked and killed it is placed into an icy saltwater brine tank until the fish's body temperature is cooled down to 0 C. The length of time is dependent on the size and type of the fish.
* Once the fish is chilled and while the skipper is setting off to new fishing ground, the fish are carefully placed into "Iki-bins", a plastic tub-like bin that protects the fish in transit and acts as a chilling box. The fish are placed belly side down on a bed of ice in the iki-bin. This minimizes the amount of contact the fish has with the ice thus limiting any unwanted ice burns and colour discoloration.
* The fish is hard and keeps its rigor mortis for up to eight days which means it can be preserved 75 % longer compared to a fish caught with a trawl-net. Around 12kg of fish are placed in each iki-bin. The lids are sealed shut and then stored in a cool safe area on the boat. These bins act as a mini-refrigerator while en route to the port.
Our snapper are caught via long-line, from our day-boat fleet and this results in the best-quality eating fish imaginable. New Zealand’s snapper fishery is managed by the Quota Management System, with a sustainable harvest TACC (Total Allowable Commerical Catch) of 6,357,300 tons.
Tai caught in Marlborough/Tasman, New Zealand, with beach seines, bottom longlines, bottom trawls, Danish seines or set nets is a "Good Alternative." There are concerns about the stock's health and bycatch of other species. There are also concerns about management's measures to help the stocks recover and minimize bycatch.