Christine Aston

Christine Aston

2024 Update

It is now 8 years on since I wrote about my introduction to the fishing Industry, and much has changed for us.

Back in 2012 we had brought a barge and started a part time business transporting vehicles, people and goods between French Pass and D’Urville Island, which took off in popularity.

It was supposed to be only part time, working around our fishing. It was meant to be something for us in our retirement from fishing, but it was so successful and in such demand that we eventually had to retire from fishing to concentrate on 7 day a week barge service we offered for the district.

This meant selling our fishing boat ‘Lady HR’ which was tough for us as she had been such an integral part of our lives for so many years. As luck would have it, Craig’s older brother, Adie Aston, (also in the fishing industry) brought her and continued to export his fish to the Sydney Fish Market via Donna.

We have, many times, looked at the changes to the fishing industry and decided that we left at the right time for us, particularly with all the electronic reporting required now – this would have been a nightmare for Craig who has no idea, nor inclination to learn, about using computers. He battles with his phone most of the time.

Running a barge business did mean a lot less free time for us.  For me, bookings and the information requirement for them, plus monthly invoicing and maritime compliance meant clerical duties increased and for Craig, being the only Skipper for the barge, meant less time off. It was difficult to find a qualified relief skipper living where we did. 

We, together, did as much maintenance as we could ourselves, so we were kept quite busy.

Two years ago, we decide to sell the Barge Business, D’urville Crossings, as we wanted to spend some time doing things we wanted to do before we got too old to do them, particularly spending time with our new grandson in Rolleston. Selling freed me up but Craig had to continue operating the barge as the new owner had been delayed getting his relevant maritime ticket plus MTOP, by Covid, for about another 10 months.

I travelled to the Wairarapa late 2022 to care for my Mum in her last few months of living with cancer.  With the sadness of her passing we soon had the joy of the arrival of our second grandson.

A few years ago, a JP in the district asked me if I would consider becoming one, as he was planning to retire. It took time but I am now an accredited JP which, while I still feel very new, do enjoy immensely.

Now we have a new trailer boat – 8.5m Image, ‘Christiona’ – Craig’s happy place back on the sea and we’ve had time to develop my veggie garden – my happy place.

Time is now spent visiting daughter, son-in-law, and grandsons in Rolleston, visiting son and daughter-in-law in Sydney, and taking holidays – either on the water, traveling around NZ and, now when we can, travel overseas.


Christine Aston, Ngamuka Fisheries

My introduction to the fishing industry was when I married Craig. Our accountant said to me “Leave the fishing to Craig and you and I will do the rest”.

I came from a nursing background and was originally from the North Island.

That was 30 years ago and I’m still doing the book work for our fishing business as well as our barge business, “D’Urville Crossings”.

Things have become simpler over the years as far as the clerical side of things go – what with relevant computer accounting software – but there just seems to be a lot more of it now.

When we first got married (before the kids came along) Craig and I both dragged for bait and I went on the odd fishing trip but seasickness did limit me from going too far off shore.

Because of where we lived, that meant that I taught our children through their primary school years with the Correspondence School.

With quota cuts always looming, the last straw for us was losing Blue Cod quota that we hadn’t even finished paying for; so we sold our quota as a package but retained the right to fish it for the next 10 years. This did mean a change in Licensed Fish Receiver and they no longer came in to French Pass to pick up our fish. Craig or I now had to transport our own fish to meet them in Rai Valley.

At the end of the 10 years we had to reassess how the fishing was going for us as fish prices seemed to be going down or not changing at all but costs were increasing.

It was at this time we had the pleasure of meeting Donna Wells and so was the beginning of the next stage for us.

We commenced exporting our fish to the Sydney Fish Market which meant we could catch less quantity of fish but get a far better return.

With our children no longer at home, this freed me up for transporting our fish to Nelson on Monday mornings – a 4am start from French Pass.

Exporting meant having to take the lows with the highs but it was the best decision we made.

We continue to export fish but this year we have been included with the recreational fishers to be excluded from our fishing grounds from the 1st September through to the 20th December. This has definitely impacted on our fishing.

To add salt to the wound we may be shut out of our fishing grounds permanently.

So we wait….

Donna Wells

By Donna Wells

Donna Wells is the Director and Owner of FinestKind Ltd. We are a New Zealand company selling seafood and sourcing quota on behalf of independent owner operators and companies.

FinestKind Limited

137 Vickerman Street,
Port Nelson, New Zealand

Phone: +64 3 545 6964
Mobile: +64 27 243 1282

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