Dressed to impress in a suit and tie, Brian Kiddie's attire was far from normal for the local fisherman, but he was set to meet His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales at an awards ceremony for conservation champions.
The Tauranga man was named as a finalist in the prestigious Seabird Smart Awards, which recognised and celebrated fishermen who demonstrated leadership or innovation to minimise risks to seabirds and dedication to best-practice, seabird-smart fishing methods.
The awards, managed by Southern Seabird Solutions Trust, were held in the afternoon ahead of an evening event, where award winners were able to meet and talk with Prince Charles. During the evening ceremony at Government House, Mr Kiddie spent about 15 minutes talking to Prince Charles, who is the patron of the trust.
"We were talking in a group to other people in the industry and from the Government then the Prince was introduced and he came over and casually began to chat with the group," Mr Kiddie said. "He was a lot more casual than I imagined and he spoke with a lot of people in the room. He was very pleasant. It was a new experience and I really enjoyed it."
Mr Kiddie was nominated by an anonymous source for his inventive ways of minimising risks to seabirds, while he sets his fishing lines.
On his boat, the Kotuku, Mr Kiddie attaches floating boards to tori lines to scare the birds away while fishing lines are being dropped into the sea. He also uses an underwater delivery device to deposit fishing lines deep beneath the sea surface, which minimises the ability for seabirds to dive for the bait and get caught in the hooks.
"I'm pretty stoked about the award. I've spent a bit of time and money trialling the gear and recognition for it is quite good," he told the Bay of Plenty Times. "It's the first time I've been to the awards and it was a real honour.
"Normally it's won by fishermen in the South but this year all the awards went to North Island guys," he said.
The premiere award was jointly won by Whangarei's Zak Olsen and Adam Clow of Whitianga.
The awards are held every two or three years.