Obituary: Independent Fisheries' Charles Shadbolt thrived in 'costly and risky' business'

Fishing, family and philanthropy were central to the life of Charles Howard Shadbolt ONZM, who died aged 67 on February 17.

As managing director of Christchurch-based Independent Fisheries, he followed in his father’s wake to build the country’s sixth largest seafood business with annual turnover of $80 million.

The business had modest beginnings when Howard Leslie Shadbolt QSM opened a Linwood fish and chip shop in 1956. The company was incorporated three years later and expanded into a deep-sea fishing operation with an annual catch entitlement of 79,000 tonnes. It employs 60-100 land-based processing staff and another 480 on rotation at sea.

Mr Shadbolt described fishing as a “costly and risky” business. Faced with expensive repairs inflicted by the Canterbury earthquakes, and fierce competition from significantly cheaper Asian-sourced fish products, the company closed its main Woolston processing facility in 2013.

The company then focused on global commodity trading in species such as barracouta, jack mackerel, southern blue whiting and arrow squid, which are caught by three 105m factory trawlers.

Mr Shadbolt’s other commercial interests included full ownership of Lyttelton’s Independent Provedoring Co and a meat packing plant. Commercial property valued at more than $18 million is held in trust through a company called Staunton Investments.

He entered the NBR Rich List in 2016 and was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to the fishing industry and philanthropy.

He was a major benefactor to such organisations as Canterbury Charitable Hospital, St John Ambulance, Salvation Army, St Georges Cancer Care Trust, Conductive Education New Zealand and Canterbury Inspire Foundation.

He also financially supported the exchange of disabled children between Christchurch and the Japanese city of Kurashiki.

The citation noted that when the Woolston factory closed, he personally undertook to ensure every staff member was compensated and that those needing a job obtained one.

Mr Shadbolt, who lived at Mairehau, Christchurch, is survived by his wife Carol, four married children and five grandchildren.

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