12 Nov 2016

Fishing cams fall short on prevention - Labour

10:29 am on 12 November 2016

All New Zealand commercial fishing vessels will be fitted with cameras and GPS systems by 2018 to try to stop illegal practices like the dumping of catches.

The move comes in a draft plan released by the Ministry of Primary Industries about how it will change the way fisheries are managed.

Hours of footage were recorded as part of Operation Achilles, which found discarding of blue moki and elephant fish.

Hours of footage were recorded as part of Operation Achilles, which found discarding of blue moki and elephant fish. Photo: Screenshot / YouTube

The ministry has been facing accusations it is turning a blind eye to illegal dumping.

It admitted last month illegal fish dumping was so widespread that over half of inshore fishers would go out of business if rules were properly enforced.

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy said a trial of the cameras had worked well and he hoped they would help stop fish dumping.

He said monitoring the footage from about 1200 boats would be a big operation but it would be worth it.

"You can imagine 1200 vessels out there with cameras running all of the time, it's a huge amount of footage.

"So we will need to tool up the back office to, obviously, analyse all of this footage."

However, the Labour Party said the government had missed the boat on its plans to stop over-fishing and fish dumping.

Fisheries spokesperson Rino Tirikatene said the reforms were underwhelming and disappointing, and the ministry needed to focus less on punitve measures and more on prevention.

"MPI really needs to look at how they set those total allowable limits, how they can adjust them in a timely fashion when, for instance it's patently obvious that there is a lot more of a particular fish stock that may be getting caught."

He said the government should instead allow for fluctuating fish numbers to make it easier to comply with catch limits.

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