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Source: Greenpeace

Further news that commercial fishing boats are operating without onboard observers shows just how critical it is to get cameras on boats immediately, says Greenpeace.
This week it was reported that the number of observers on inshore boats had fallen short of government targetsfor the second year in the row meaning fishing practices were going mainly unmonitored. Observers have missed 2047 days at sea out of the 10,026 planned for the year to end June.
Greenpeace Aotearoa oceans campaigner Ellie Hooper says this shows the importance of rolling out cameras on boats across the entire fishing fleet.
“Cameras are needed to ensure transparency around this industry that has been allowed to operate out of sight, out of mind, for years. For too long there’s been endangered seabirds dying on hooks and dolphins drowning in nets, along with illegal fish dumping and under-reporting of catches,” says Hooper.
“The news that in-person observers have been even less able to monitor fishing activity than usual – shows that cameras are desperately needed. The public has a right to know the true impact that commercial fishing has on the marine environment – but right now, we’re having to take the industry’s word for it.
“We know commercial fishing is one of the single greatest threats to the ocean. We need cameras on the full fleet for transparency around that threat”, says Hooper.
A programme to fit 300 fishing boats with onboard cameras was announced by the government last year. It was meant to be up and running on the first handful of boats by November 2022 but has faced several delays.
Hooper says more delay means more destruction and loss of marine life.
“Nobody wants a dead and empty ocean. The Government must regulate the fishing industry in order to protect wildlife and restore the oceans so that they are teeming with life again.”
Due to a lack of monitoring of the commercial fishing fleet, both in camera form and in-person observer coverage, protected species encounters are mainly recorded via reports from commercial fishers.
In the 2021-2022 fishing year 195 marine mammals including sea lions and dolphins, and 792 seabirds including albatross and endangered hoiho were killed by lines and nets. Over the same period nets pulled up over 10,000kg of corals and bryozoans – the building blocks of ocean life.
Hooper says because this is self reported data from the fishing industry the real death toll is likely to be much higher.
Says Hooper: “Time and again we’ve seen that the industry cannot be trusted to self-report accurately. We know the impact this industry is having on ocean life is huge, and it is urgent we have transparency around that.
“Let’s get cameras across the board so we can ensure the health of the ocean for the future.”