Ezra Malpaz loves a spot of fishing but had only heard negative things about the commercial side of it until a school social studies lesson taught him otherwise.

Something fishy was happening at Whangarei Boys' High School yesterday and it was all part of the Year 10 lesson.

Social studies head of department Jay Warren invited commercial fisherman Greg Hayes and his son Nick, a Whangarei Boys' High School old boy, to the school to teach the students about sustainable fishing. The pair also brought in a few fish and taught the boys how to fillet and cook them.

"We try to, as much as possible, make it relevant to the students and a lot of our boys have an affinity with the ocean. A lot of our boys they either fish or dive or surf, so we wanted to steer away from traditional sustainability conversations around dairy farming and make it more real for them," Mr Warren said.

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He said Greg talked about what they do on boats to ensure there's no by-catch, or over-catch. He said it also debunked a few myths about commercial fishing, which sometimes got a bad rap.

Ezra, a 15-year-old student, enjoys fishing and diving and tries to go out every weekend.

He said he'd heard a few bad things about how commercial fishermen pillage the ocean.

"I found it interesting hearing about their side of the whole story, there's heaps of stories about how they're real bad. It's cool learning a couple of new facts."

Mr Warren said the lesson was also about showing the boys that fishing could be a career pathway. He said making the class hands-on was important.

"It's a unique way to approach learning. We can give the boys textbooks, we can give them our knowledge or we can give them a task to find something. But if you want legitimate primary data, you have to go to the source. The more interactive and memorable it can be, the better."

The fish filleting and cooking are all part of making it memorable, said Mr Warren.

"That's fun. Teenage boys eat and if you can reach them through something that's innovative and relevant and also reach them through their stomach, I think we're going a long way in cementing these learnings."