10 Mar 2017

Cameras could force half of all fishers out

From Morning Report, 6:19 am on 10 March 2017

Half of New Zealand's inshore fishing fleet could be put out of business with the introduction of cameras to monitor fish dumping.

Auckland Fish Market

Photo: RNZ/Conan Young

That's the prediction of an Auckland University academic as the government moves towards installing cameras on all commercial boats starting in October next year.

The start date for the cameras was brought forward last year after a series of headlines around the failure of the Ministry for Primary Industries to prosecute those found dumping fish.

But inshore fisherman, Tony Threadwell, says they should not be turned on until problems are first sorted out with the quota management system.

He has little control over what his trawl nets pull up and they often contain up to 30 different types of fish, many of them undersized.

The system requires fishers to bring many of these fish home, even though they are destined for the landfill and take up valuable space on boats that could be used to stow fish they can sell.

Another inshore fisher, Andrew Stark, says it's hard for fishers to talk about what is really going on for fear they'll be prosecuted - but most know the rules around dumping are not working.

Both men believe introducing cameras before the quota management system is sorted out  would be a mistake that would unfairly penalise fishers like them.

Auckland University's Glenn Simmons says they are right to be nervous.

"That is going to have a significant economic impact on their ability to turn a profit and if the cameras are monitored correctly, it's complemented with observer coverage, we will definitely see half the fleet go out of business."The

Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, says there are problems with a no discard rule.

The government is continuing to consult with fishers on the final shape of its review of the sector.

b/a And you can hear more about problems in the fishing industry and plans to fix them on Insight after the 8 o'clock news this Sunday morning.