New Zealand introduces plan to put camera aboard all its fishing vessels

New Zealand’s government last week announced plans to put cameras on board 345 fishing vessels, a plan that will cost more than NZD 40 million (USD 27 million, EUR 23 million). 

In a press statement, New Zealand Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash said the introduction of on-board cameras will be across the nation’s inshore fishing fleet. He said the government will provide at least a portion of the funding required to install and operate the cameras, but “the precise amount will depend on the business case put together by officials for Cabinet sign-off..”

“The proposed operating model would then have to be tested in the market and negotiations would be subject to a degree of commercial confidentiality,” he said. “Wider use of on-board cameras will enhance New Zealand’s reputation as a producer of premium, sustainable, and trusted seafood.”

The increase in the use of on-board cameras is supported by the current coalition government and is aimed at providing more transparency in the fisheries, Nash said.

“The rollout of on-board cameras is another step to modernize the fishing industry. Cameras will improve fisheries management information and provide the transparency demanded by domestic and international markets,” Nash said. “The decision also supports the economic recovery for communities who depend on fishing for their livelihoods. As we respond to the impact of COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to position the country as a world-leading source of sustainable, trusted, and high-value seafood. “

Last year, New Zealand’s government supported the effort to put cameras on 20 fishing vessels in areas that pose the highest risk to Māui dolphins, a small, endangered population of marine mammals located off the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island. Additionally, electronic catch and position reporting for around 830 boats in the inshore fleet was made mandatory in 2019.

“Ministers have agreed on the next steps to improve the quality of fisheries data through an extra layer of verification. Cameras also help the transition to a more modern fishing industry and a more sustainable and prosperous seafood sector,” Nash said.

Following the rollout of the cameras, the government plans to expand the on-board camera program to around 345 inshore vessels by 2024, in two tranches. The first tranche will include cameras installed on around 165 fishing vessels in high-risk areas , including habitats of Hector’s dolphins, antipodean and Gibson’s albatross, black petrels, and hoiho penguins. The second tranche will provide cameras on another 160 fishing vessels which fish in lower-risk areas which are a haven of protected species such as fur seals, the common dolphin, flesh-footed shearwater, and Salvin’s albatross.

The project also includes research into new camera technology and digital monitoring developments.

Meanwhile, Nash said NZD 4.6 million (USD 3 million, EUR 2.6 million) will be made available for a fishing industry-led support network to help businesses survive the COVID-19 crisis. He said the network will be a fishing-specific support and will be built on the rural support trusts that already work with farmers.

“The fishing community support and wellbeing network will offer mentorship and practical advice to help transition businesses to meet sustainability goals. It will connect fishing operators with the right support services and help them apply for innovation funding,” Nash said.

Photo courtesy of Krug_100/Shutterstock


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