WWF applauds the Government’s big step to bring our fisheries into the 21st century with a $40-60 million investment into onboard cameras. This long awaited announcement will improve the accountability and transparency in nearly half of our inshore fisheries catch.
“Minister Nash says the most important thing to do is to rely 'on the science.' WWF agrees because as a science-based organisation, the science tells us that cameras on boats dramatically improves the accuracy of reported by-catch. We need this robust science to know how to better manage this threat,” says WWF-New Zealand CEO Livia Esterhazy.
“Cameras on boats creates certainty around the impact fishing has on fish stocks and protected species such as seabirds, seals, dolphins, and whales. The fishing industry today acknowledged the current uncertainty and unreliability of data frustrates fisheries management. Cameras on boats is a ready-made solution that is already working in other countries,” Esterhazy says.
WWF commends the focus placed on the vessels that are a high risk for our protected species. “We are particularly pleased that the 30-35 vessels in the tuna and swordfish long-lining boats that pose the highest risk to the critically threatened Antipodean Albatross, are included in this programme. This species is in freefall, so we must act now to save it and can’t wait for the next funding round. These cameras will help quantify the bycatch problem, and help to enforce legal requirements for vessels to use seabird-safe methods,” says Amanda Leathers, Marine Species Programme Manager.
WWF is encouraged by the investment of public funds to kick start this work. However, the cost of maintaining the technology should lie with industry, rather than the rate payer.
Increasing transparency and accountability in our oceans is the very least we can do to begin to the restore the health of our moana. Over 80% of New Zealanders want better protection for our ocean. This is a great step towards making that happen.