Large-scale changes bring opportunity for further collaboration

Photograph by Peter Marriott/NIWA

The seafood industry and the Ministry for Primary Industries continue to collaborate during the rollout of the Integrated Electronic Monitoring and Reporting System (IEMRS).

The seafood industry is working with MPI on expectations that appear to be unnecessary, unworkable or that will make operations illegal; and with the costs, which are as yet unknown.

All trawlers 28 metres or larger are now required to electronically report catches and positions, although the majority were already utilising these systems before they were imposed on October 1.

The remainder of the fishing fleet will be required to comply from 1 April 2018.

Talley’s quota manager Dion Iorns said increased cooperation between all parties was proving to be worthwhile, with timeframes for reporting now reflecting a more reasoned approach.

“However MPI need to recognise the process has not considered the practical needs of the industry and they have to do better than that when moving into the inshore space,” Iorns said.

Under the regulations, every trawl is documented as a separate event and the permit holder is required to record and report all details by the end of the fishing day.

MPI has now provided exemptions to address the impractical approach to the regulations, particularly reporting timeframes, he said.

“The initial requirements were too prescriptive and onerous on the vessels.

“Those extra timeframes that the Ministry has provided through exemptions are a positive step. However the question needs to be asked; why operate under the umbrella of ‘exemptions’ when if the whole thing was considered properly it could have been done once and done right.”

It was still early days, however by all accounts the introduction of the non-exemption regulations was going smoothly, Iorns said.

“We only have two vessels that have stepped into the new reporting regime, but feedback has been positive.

“As an industry we need to continue to work together and with MPI, to work through the next challenges we face during the rollout.”