New Zealand reconsidering mandate requiring cameras on board fishing vessels

New Zealand is reconsidering a proposal to install cameras on all commercial fishing vessels, according to Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash.

The government had proposed the measure following recent allegations of fishermen misreporting their catch, but the country’s fishing industry has pushed back against the expense of adding the cameras.

George Clement, the CEO of Deepwater Group, a nonprofit trade group representing New Zealand’s major deepwater commercial fisheries, praised the government’s reconsideration of mandating on-board cameras on all vessels.

“Recent allegations of misreporting are of concern and need to be remedied where they are, in fact, occurring,” Clement said. “Cameras have their place as one of a number of monitoring tools to verify catch reporting, but they are expensive and will not work in all applications.”

Under the proposed regulations, the estimated cost to industry for compliance and at sea monitoring would increase to NZD 18,000 (USD 13,100, EUR 10,700) for each inshore vessel and NZD 168,000 (USD 122,500, EUR 99,500) for each deep-water vessel, Clement said. 

“We welcome further transparency in the interests of better informing good fisheries management. However, there are many practical decisions around the use of cameras in private workspaces that remain unresolved,” Clement said. “Monitoring tools must be fit for purpose. The original proposal was foisted on the industry without proper consultation and was simplistic, inadequate and unreasonably costly.”

Clement backed Nash’s call for more at-sea observers on New Zealand fishing vessels, as well as a request by the country’s conservation minister, Eugenie Sage, to reduce bycatch, including seabirds and marine mammals.

“It is reassuring to have a government that is committed to getting this major step-change right to ensure that it delivers better fisheries management, improved transparency and enhances New Zealand’s reputation,” Clement said.

Seafood New Zealand CEO Tim Pankhurst he appreciated Nash’s willingness to take a “reasoned and pragmatic approach” to ensuring commercial fishers are obeying the law.

“What pleases the seafood industry is an unrushed and honest approach to find a solution that works for the vessel operators, the environment, and good fisheries management," Pankhurst said. "We look forward to further discussions with Minister Nash and his officials."


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