An announcement that the long awaited cameras on boats scheme will be up and running this week is a step in the right direction but must be rolled out to the whole fleet to keep the fishing industry publicly accountable and protect the ocean, says Greenpeace.
“Cameras on boats are needed to ensure transparency around an industry that has been allowed to operate out of sight, out of mind for too long”, says Greenpeace Aotearoa oceans campaigner Ellie Hooper.
“In order for us to have a clear picture of how commercial fishing impacts the ocean and to be able to enforce the rules, it is essential we have comprehensive monitoring of the full fleet – and that this information is made freely available to the public.
“For too long there’s been illegal dumping of fish, under-reporting of catches, seabirds dying on hooks and dolphins drowning in nets. Cameras are a key component to stopping all that and to providing protection for ocean biodiversity.
“This is exactly why we’ve been campaigning for years to get cameras on boats and getting it across the line now is a huge win for people power. Over 38,000 New Zealanders have signed a petition calling for cameras on the entire fleet by the end of 2023.”
Hooper says that while Greenpeace welcomes news that 23 boats will go live with cameras this week, they want the government to roll the programme out across the entire commercial fishing fleet.
Self-reported figures from the Ministry for Primary Industries show that in the 2021-2022 fishing year commercial fisheries in New Zealand killed 195 marine mammals and 792 seabirds accidently as ‘bycatch’. Over 10,000kg of coral and bryozoans, the building blocks of ocean life, were also pulled up in nets.
“The bycatch figures in New Zealand are shocking, but we know that actual figures are likely to be much higher than these self reported numbers. Studies show that fishers report higher numbers of bycatch when cameras or observers are on board.
“Cameras are our eyes and ears at sea, allowing us to know the true cost of commercial fishing.
“To keep the fishing industry accountable, cameras should be rolled out on the entire commercial fleet and the information they capture must be shared freely and in a timely manner with the public.”
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.