Commercial fishermen support getting digital monitoring right

Published: 14 November 2017

Deepwater Group, which represent commercial fishermen in New Zealand’s deep-water fisheries, support the Labour Government’s decision to slow down the implementation of IEMRS (Integrated Electronic Monitoring and Reporting System) to ensure the new measures are effective. 

The Labour Government has committed to implementing digital reporting and monitoring systems that are cost effective, fit for purpose, and provide real fisheries management benefits.

Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash explained that 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.

There is concern that the previous Government’s hasty timetable did not allow sufficient time to ensure the systems were robust enough to provide for these objectives.

Deepwater Group supports the Government’s commitment to fisheries improvements, but share the concern that decisions made in haste will not achieve this. 

Meantime, deferring implementation does not threaten the sustainability of the deep-water fisheries, which comprise 80 percent of New Zealand’s commercial catch.

Deep-water fishing vessels 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 present to verify catch information. Around half of the deep-water trawls are observed and, in high-risk fisheries, this is up to 100 percent.

These high levels of reporting and auditing have contributed to the rebuilding of stocks and to the Marine Stewardship Council certification of over 70 percent of the deep-water catch.

Globally, New Zealand is a small contributor in the seafood market. In order to get the best value from seafood, New Zealand must maintain its strong reputation for sustainable seafood.

Commercial fishermen understand the importance of this and, through Deepwater Group, they are working alongside the government, scientists and others to ensure New Zealand maintains and further enhances its reputation for sustainable seafood.