Up to 300 inshore fishing vessels will be fitted with cameras by the end of 2024, the Government announced on 25 May, providing independent, accurate information about fishing activity.
“It will be supported by cutting-edge artificial intelligence software that will help put New Zealand at the forefront of camera monitoring technology,” said oceans and fisheries minister David Parker.
“The software uses machine learning to recognise relevant activity for recording. When the software detects activities such as net setting or hauling, the cameras move into high-definition capture and the relevant footage is stored and marked for upload. This reduces footage storage and review costs and better protects the privacy of fishers.”
Spark Business Group has been appointed as the prime supplier to manage the rollout, training, and support for the installation of on-board camera. The rollout is staged so that vessels posing the greatest risk to at-risk protected species, such as Hector’s and Māui dolphins and hoiho, will get cameras first.
The cost of the rollout is expected to be $68 million over four years with about $10 million of this recovered from the industry. From the 2025/26 fishing year, costs recovered from the industry will be aligned with standard fisheries cost recovery provisions.
The rollout will include all vessels that use the following fishing methods:
- Set net vessels (eight metres or larger), surface longline, and bottom longline vessels
- Trawlers of 32 metres or less, except those targeting scampi, and danish and purse seine vessels
Greenpeace welcomed the news, saying the announcement is “a win for the oceans and for people power.”
“Cameras are needed to ensure transparency around this industry that has been allowed to operate out of sight, out of mind, for too long,” said Greenpeace oceans campaigner Ellie Hooper.
“Commercial fishing is one of the greatest threats to the ocean, and every year endangered species are being killed in New Zealand waters as a result of fishing activities that carry on out of sight, out of mind. Cameras are key to stopping that.”
She added that the camera programme should now be rolled out across the entire commercial fleet.
“We need these cameras across the board. Now they’ve started, there should be nothing standing in the way of putting cameras on the full fleet to protect the ocean.”