After years of campaigning for cameras on boats, Greenpeace is reacting to the news of cameras on 300 commercial fishing vessels with cautious optimism, celebrating that the tide is finally turning towards ocean protection, while continuing to call for cameras on the full commercial fleet.
On Wednesday, the Minister of Oceans and Fisheries, David Parker, confirmed 300 vessels will be fitted with cameras from this year, following many delays to get the programme underway.
Greenpeace oceans campaigner, Ellie Hooper, says the start of the long-awaited cameras on boats rollout is welcome news, a win for the oceans and for people power.
Over 30,000 people have signed a Greenpeace petition calling for cameras to be installed across the whole commercial fishing fleet.
“Cameras are needed to ensure transparency around this industry that has been allowed to operate out of sight, out of mind, for too long.
“Commercial fishing is one of the greatest threats to the ocean, and every year endangered species are being killed in New Zealand waters as a result of fishing activities that carry on out of sight, out of mind. Cameras are key to stopping that,” she says.
“For too long there’s been illegal fish dumping, under-reporting of catches, seabirds dying on hooks and endangered dolphins drowning in nets, but comprehensive surveillance can help stop all that.
“In order for us to have a clear picture of how commercial fishing impacts the ocean, and be able to enforce the rules, it is essential we have independent and comprehensive monitoring of the fleet,” she says.
Hooper says the camera programme should now be rolled out across the entire commercial fleet.
“We need these cameras across the board. Now they’ve started, there should be nothing standing in the way of putting cameras on the full fleet to protect the ocean.”
A study conducted in Australia showed cameras on boats increased reporting of bycatch by eight times, and camera trials in New Zealand a decade ago showed boats illegally dumping unwanted fish.
“Self-reporting from the fishing industry has been proven inaccurate. So let’s get cameras across the board in order for us to ensure the health of the ocean for the future.”
Call on the NZ Govt to commit to implementing cameras on the whole commercial fishing fleet before the end of their term in 2023. We need to see a clear plan to meet this deadline and transparent reporting on progress of that plan.