Fishermen slam MPI camera proposals

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Dunedin
Southern commercial fishermen have called for an immediate halt to proposals to have cameras and data gathering equipment on their vessels, labeling the Ministry for Primary Industries’ proposals as “unworkable, excessive and possibly unlawful”.
The Southern fishermen back the data collation concept, but are calling for a halt and review of the proposal, but MPI appears to holding firm to its timetable, despite the criticism.
The ministry’s Integrated Electronic Monitoring and Reporting System (IEMRS) was launched last month, outlining how most of New Zealand’s fishing fleet will have to install digital monitoring devices, including geospatial position reporting (GPR) and camera’s at costs running up to tens of thousands of dollars per vessel; plus annual
fees.
A three hour meeting in Invercargill yesterday attracted 50 commercial fishermen, including operators catching Bluff oysters, blue cod, crayfish, eels, inshore fin-fish and paua divers.
Fishermens’ spokesman Bill Chisholm was contacted after the meeting and emphasised all the fishermen believed the system was a workable idea, but recommended MPI immediately halt and review the implementation of it.
“It has the potential to provide better data for fisheries management . . . but unless it’s done right, everyone’s going to suffer,” he said of the data for scientists, fishermen and the ministry alike.
“All we ask is that the Ministry genuinely works with us within reasonable time frames, so we can get this project right,” he said.
MPI was contacted for comment and a spokesman said it was still consulting with them on all aspects, with cameras up next for discussion.
“We’re confident that the programme can be implemented successfully on the current timeframe,” the spokesman said.
Mr Chisholm said the implementation had “degenerated into a series of unworkable proposals” based on the Ministry’s unilateral and rushed approach.
MPI want trawlers over 28m to have GPR and electronic log books in by October, with the rest of the fishers to follow suit, including cameras, by October 2020.
MPI said cameras were not required until October next year, and then phased in across different fisheries.
“We’re confident that this is more than enough time to work with industry to get the implementation of these new regulations right,” the spokesman said.
Mr Chisholm highlighted eel and paua catchers had already implemented their own hand-held type computer gear to collate data, but that had taken “at least two years” to streamline the data capture each required.
He said the potential for computer outages and cost overruns alone was “massive”, especially with MPI having “shoved accountability” for running the system platform to private providers.
“This means that if the system goes down, we cant go fishing,” Mr Chisholm said.
However, MPI said yesterday if systems broke-down while at sea fishers could contact MPI for permission to continue fishing.
Otago Daily Times

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