Government needs to act
by Amy Adams
Back in 2017, the National government announced the roll-out of digital monitoring and cameras across the commercial fishing industry. Cameras were to be phased into each fishery from October 1 2018.
However, in late 2018 the current government delayed the roll-out of cameras on commercial fishing boats, and we have still seen no action. Fisheries minister Stuart Nash has indicated that his cabinet colleagues are not convinced of the merits of the cameras. It is code for New Zealand First ministers (who received substantial donations from the fishing industry during the last election) now acting to block the introduction of cameras on commercial fishing vessels.
That is concerning given the evidence and support from the Department of Conservation that cameras would make a difference in protecting our endangered marine mammals and birds.
Recently Fisheries New Zealand said it had received two reports from commercial fishers about rare Hector’s dolphins being caught off the East Coast of the South Island this summer.
The reality of the industry has too often meant that what happens at sea has been out of sight. If we don’t measure something, we have no real way of knowing the scale of the problem and how to manage it.
If rolled-out fully as National proposed, digital monitoring would help revolutionise the way New Zealand’s commercial fisheries are managed and monitored.
We have the opportunity to have one of the most transparent and accountable commercial fisheries in the world and to help ensure the sustainability of our fisheries for generations to come.
It is very disappointing that despite the Green Party’s rhetoric about being the champion for conservation, they are seemingly powerless to get the rest of government to agree to proceed with these simple, practical measures that would save our endangered sea mammals and seabirds.