A camera trial in the Hauraki Gulf has found inshore fishers reported twice as many seabird captures when a camera was on board.
Forest & Bird is now calling for all political parties to support camera-based monitoring on inshore and commercial fishing boats.
Trial camera report here.
Since October 2016, a group of bottom-longline fishers working with NGOs have voluntarily carried cameras on their boats to test how fishing affects the black petrel. The black petrel is the species most at risk from commercial fisheries in New Zealand.
"A 100% increase in reported seabird bycatch shows why cameras on boats are needed across the whole fishing industry, including smaller inshore boats,” says Forest & Bird CE Kevin Hague.
“The fishers hosting these cameras were all volunteers, and can be considered among New Zealand’s most responsible fishers. Yet even then, the presence of cameras on board is enough to encourage much more diligent reporting, compared to when there is no camera.
“In comparison, on deep-water boats in the tuna fishery in which the boats were selected by MPI rather than being volunteers, fishers were nine times more likely to report catching seabirds if there was an observer on board.
"This Hauraki trial shows why it’s important that smaller inshore fishing boats have cameras too. Inshore boats are often too small to take government observers, yet they are a big risk to coastal species like albatrosses, shearwaters, petrels, penguins, and dolphins."
The research also found that cameras were as good as humans in being able to detect seabird captures, determine if they were dead or alive, and allowed accurate identification of seabirds.
"Accurate reporting is fundamental to a truly sustainable fishing industry that New Zealanders can trust. All political parties need to acknowledge the scientific evidence and overwhelming public support for comprehensive monitoring, and commit to putting cameras on all commercial fishing boats," says Mr Hague.
Fishers volunteered to take part, and the industry committed significant funding to carry out the trials.
Image of Black Petrel fishing bykill here