Update from New Zealand’s big EM rollout: ‘Fishing fraternity lens its weight to camera implementation’

EM Info Admin EM Info Admin

Published September 9, 2017
  • Nelson Mail, August 30, 2017

    The cost of rolling out monitoring cameras on their vessels is worrying Nelson’s smaller fishing operators who say the costs of installing them could push a number of them out of business.

    Small inshore operators are concerned about the speed in which the government’s vessel monitoring system Integrated Electronic Monitoring and Reporting System (IEMRS), which became law in July, is being rolled out without adequate consultation.

    Nelson-based inshore fisherman Fin Horder estimated it could cost him $20,000 to install and maintain the equipment. He also had concerns about privacy from being monitored 24 hours a day in a small space.

    Horder helped organise a meeting last week to discuss the issues raised by the Ministry of Primary Industries regulation that fishing boats install electronic reporting and monitoring equipment.

    About 30 representatives of the Nelson, Marlborough and Southland fishing fraternities attended.

    Geospatial Position Reporting and electronic reporting will be required on all trawl vessels 28m and over from 1 October.

    All commercial vessels will require e-logbooks and GPR from 1 April 2018. Cameras will be phased in on all vessels over 18 months, starting on 1 October 2018.

    MPI brought in the cameras following demands from consumers of proof that fisheries were sustainable.

    “The relationship has got to be better than that – in some ways this is the first step in bringing the fishermen together and getting people talking but we’ve got a long way to go,” Horder said.

    Fisheries Inshore New Zealand (FINZ), who represents inshore operators, have written a scathing submission to MPI.

    FINZ said it supported electronic monitoring and reporting, but called current plans: “confused, unrealistic, onerous, unnecessary and costly.”

    Horder’s livelihood sees him chase Albacore Tuna – an export fish that has found popularity in the Spanish market – around New Zealand from Cooks Canyon on the West Coast to the Far North.

    He bought his 14.5-metre fishing vessel Moata eight years ago and has been fishing for 20.

    Last season, Horder caught 49 tonnes of fish – his best catch yet.

    Privacy, cost and communication were his main concerns with the implementation of cameras on his boat.

    “The digital side has a lot of positives, but there’s also some practical aspects that are just not on – yes, there’s grey areas, but we’ve got to have consultation – you cannot fast-track something like that.”

    “You could be the skipper of a trawler and a crew member throws a fish over the side – you don’t know about it but the camera’s seen it and you could get a phone call by MPI two years later saying we would like to see you in court.”

    Horder said the need to monitor fishermen would be reduced if everyone followed the rules.

    Some inshore fishermen want pursue a legal challenge to the rule, with those at the Nelson meeting informally voting to support the action should it go ahead.

    The total cost to MPI for implementing the entire digital monitoring programme is estimated at $16.7 million over 15 years.

    The consultation process on how the cameras will work in practice was still to be decided. MPI has promised extensive engagement with industry and fishers.

    An MPI regulatory impact statement on the IEMRS suggested the proposal may result in significant rationalisation of the industry. Anecdotal information during the consultation process indicated that the cost of cameras in particular could cause some fishers to exit the industry.

    An MPI spokesman said digital monitoring, and the “quick, accurate and verifiable” reporting was essential for the future of the industry, and the sustainability of New Zealand’s fisheries.

    “We appreciate that this is a major change for the industry, and that there will be concerns about its impacts – Fishers do not need to worry about their secret fishing spots becoming public. MPI is not able to release commercially sensitive information, like individual fishing spots. .”

    “We are also working with fishers on the privacy issues, and we are 100 per cent confident that we will meet our obligations.”

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