The Government’s announcement this morning they’re paying for cameras on 28 fishing boats is yet another major back down to the fishing industry, says Forest & Bird.
“Putting cameras on boats in an area that already has near total observer coverage is a joke. Meanwhile, most commercial fishing boats in New Zealand will continue to operate without human or camera observers,” says Forest & Bird Chief Executive Kevin Hague.
“There are only 63 Māui dolphins in the world. If we want to save them, counting bodies on boats is too late. We need to stop dangerous set netting and trawling in their habitat, not put cameras on boats that mostly already have MPI staff on them."
“There are over 1000 commercial fishing boats in our waters, the vast majority of which do not have any observer coverage at all. And we know the fishing industry has been breaking the law for decades, dumping fish and lying about killing Hector’s dolphins,” says Mr Hague.
“The fishing industry spends big bucks on advertisements insisting they have nothing to hide, but has opposed increased transparency. The reality is our seas continue to be fished by hundreds of unmonitored boats, by an industry that has a long history of breaking the law and trashing the environment.”
"Putting cameras on 28 boats out of our entire inshore fishing fleet is a major back down to companies like Talley’s, who we know have been working hard to prevent any oversight of their activities either through the OIA, or through cameras," says Mr Hague.
“You have to wonder what companies like these are so desperate to hide."
“The Government needs to assure New Zealanders these cameras will be used to monitor legal compliance on the boats. Otherwise, this could just be a repeat of the Achilles trial debacle, which allowed fishers who were caught illegally dumping dolphins and whole nets full of fish, to get off scot free."
“We need to stop catching dolphins, penguins, albatross, corals – anywhere. New Zealanders will congratulate Government and industry once we see a plan to reduce bycatch to zero, a real commitment from industry to catch only what we eat, and cameras on all fishing vessels.
“Anything short of a concrete plan for 100% observer coverage is further evidence of this Government’s inability to stand up to the fishing industry.”