Sealord has completed its big-money purchase of Independent Fisheries, making it New Zealand’s biggest seafood business by revenue.

The deal means Sealord overtakes Sanford Limited for the title.

The fishing giants completed the sale after clearance from the Commerce Commission and consent from the Overseas Investment Office, “and a number of conditions having been satisfied”, a statement from Sealord said today.

The purchase marks the largest financial transaction in the seafood sector since the Sealord deal in 1992 as part of the Māori Fisheries Settlement, the company said.

“Along with the recent acquisition by our 50% shareholder Moana New Zealand of Sanford’s Annual Catch Entitlement (ACE) for much of its quota of North Island inshore species, this purchase of Independent Fisheries affirms Māori as major players in New Zealand’s fishing industry,” Sealord chairperson Jamie Tuuta said.

“Māori have a strong affinity with the moana, kaimoana and fishing. The fisheries settlement allocating iwi ownership of quota, including through the purchase of 50% of Sealord, underpins that cultural value system.

“This transaction grows iwi quota ownership, enhancing our strong connection with the moana in Aotearoa.”

Sealord is equally owned by Moana New Zealand and Japan-based seafood company Nissui Corporation.

As part of the deal, Sealord will acquire “approximately 46,000 metric tonne of quota, one chartered and two owned deepwater factory fishing vessels, 500 plus vessel crew and staff, and a cold storage facility”, the company said.

Christchurch-based Independent Fisheries began as a fish and chip shop in Linwood in 1956.

“Since that time… Independent Fisheries has grown into one of New Zealand’s major privately-owned fishing businesses, with the fourth largest deepwater quota package in New Zealand.

“Within the Sealord Group, Independent Fisheries will continue to be operated by its current employees.”