New data released by the Ministry for Primary Industries shows that commercial fishing companies have been massively underreporting their catches of dolphins, albatross and fish prior to the cameras on boats programme.

The data shows that for the 127 vessels now with cameras, reporting of dolphin captures increased nearly seven fold while reported albatross interactions were up 3.5 times. The reported volume of fish discarded has increased by almost 50%.

Greenpeace says this is proof of concept for cameras on boats.

“What this shows is exactly why a comprehensive cameras on boats programme is needed,” says Ellie Hooper, Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner.

“It shows us that for decades, the unmonitored commercial fishing fleet has not been accurately reporting their interactions with protected species of dolphin and seabirds, nor the amount of fish they catch and discard.

“Quite simply, the fishing industry hasn’t been telling the truth. 

“This is exactly why cameras on boats are needed, for all of us to get accurate information about the actual impact fishing has on the ocean, not just numbers that have been dreamt up by industry.

“We commend MPI for getting this started – it hasn’t been easy and there have been years of delays. This data shows us exactly why we need cameras on the whole commercial fleet – including deepwater vessels.”

Hooper says comments by Minister of Oceans and Fisheries, Shane Jones, that the camera data be held by industry is outrageous. 

“This information is in the public interest, and must be readily available to the public and civil society. Everyone has a right to know the cost commercial fishing has on the ocean.”

In mid February, just a week after MPI shared the cameras data with him,  Jones announced he would review the planned roll out of cameras on boats. The announcement came after he met with fishing industry bosses over wine and oysters, some of whom said they didn’t want the programme.

That’s despite 80% of people polled – including 80% of National voters and 78% of NZ First voters – saying they support cameras on boats. 

“Getting the cameras on boats in the first place was a huge win for people power and the result of years of campaigning. Everyone wants a healthy ocean where marine life can recover and thrive, but we can’t get there if we don’t have the information.

“We need cameras on the full fleet – and the information from them needs to be accessible. It can’t be guarded by industry.”

Since going live in August last year cameras have been operating on 127 boats including 105 trawl and set net vessels and 22 surface longliners. Footage for over 11,000 fishing trips have been provided and 3,733 events reviewed. Over 40,000 people have signed a Greenpeace petition calling on the Government to implement cameras on the whole commercial fishing fleet. 

PETITION: Cameras on boats to protect the oceans

Call on the NZ Govt to commit to implementing cameras on the whole commercial fishing fleet. I want to see a clear plan to meet this deadline and transparent reporting on progress of that plan.

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