Commercial fishers are welcoming the announcement that the implementation of the Integrated Electronic Monitoring and Reporting System (IEMRS) will be slowed down.
Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash said he has instructed Ministry for Primary Industries officials to look at options for readjusting the current IEMRS timeframes.
“Digital monitoring will give confidence to New Zealanders, and consumers from around the world, that fish from our waters are being managed and caught sustainably,” he said
“However, we need to be satisfied that the systems are robust in the interests of all stakeholders.
“This is an important initiative to get right, and we will not be following the hasty timetable set by the previous Government.”
Fisheries Inshore New Zealand chief executive Jeremy Helson said common sense had prevailed.
“It’s very encouraging to see that Minister Nash and MPI’s new fisheries leadership have understood the difficulties in designing and implementing this new system.
“Most importantly, this is not just an exercise in getting the technical details right, but also ensuring that any policy changes developed as part of the Future of our Fisheries review genuinely advance fisheries management when combined with digital monitoring.”
The way forward now is to get the horse back in front of the cart.
The first step would be to work through improvements in the way we manage fisheries and then consider how IEMRS can deliver the necessary information to assist, Helson said.
“Convening an expert-based working group would be a good start,” he said.
“This is a very complex task and the collective expertise of MPI and industry will be required to get this right.”
Deepwater Group chief executive George Clement added that, meantime, the deferral has little bearing on deep-water fisheries, which comprise 80 percent of the commercial catch.
The deep-water fleet have already implemented position reporting (since 1994) and electronic reporting (since 2010). These data are transmitted to the Ministry to monitor fishing activity.
At-sea government observers are also used to verify catch information. Around half of the deep-water trawls are observed and, in high-risk fisheries, this is up to 100 percent.
“The seafood industry looks forward to working with the Minister and MPI to ensure we make genuine improvements to fisheries management in New Zealand and that IEMRS makes a positive contribution to that,” said Clement.