Seafood industry wants better strategy for using cameras on vessels


The seafood industry is calling on Fisheries New Zealand to implement a better strategy for using cameras on vessels.

A commercial fishing boat off the coast (file photo)

Photo: 123RF

The government expects to spend $68 million over the next four years fitting out and maintaining on-board cameras on 300 inshore fishing vessels and monitoring footage.

The staged installation of cameras is expected to start later this year and be complete by late 2024.

Three seafood industry organisations have made submissions in support of the cameras, but say a better strategy is needed.

Fisheries Inshore executive chair Laws Lawson said the most recent proposal lacked vision and a pathway to maximise additional electronic monitoring.

Cameras could be used to identify what species had been caught, their age, if they were protected and what species were returned to the sea, he said.

“Imagine getting that data electronically and using it to better actively manage our fisheries. We could have an at-sea monitoring service that doesn’t require us to bring back every fish so it can be counted, instead, we would monitor the fish catch in their habitat.”

Seafood New Zealand chief executive and chair Jeremy Helson said it did not want to see the initiative fail but said but New Zealanders were being led to believe that installing cameras and accumulating screeds of footage was the answer to fisheries management.

“We have publicly expressed our support for cameras and made it clear that cameras can be an effective management tool, filling information gaps for better science.

“The investment of public funds in the technology needs to provide a return to the nation through the enabling of better management of the fisheries resource.”

The industry groups are calling for a future-based strategy, a phased rollout of the right technology, more research and for the camera initiative to be funded by the government.

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