Fisheries Minister Shane Jones is reviewing the rollout of cameras on commercial fishing boats, saying he wants fisheries management to be “better, more focused and robust”.

Jones told 1News that while the money spent to date and the rollout of the cameras will not be reversed, a review will take place in case there’s a further extension of cameras.

He said he wanted to know how it could be paid for and how the camera footage could be used as a way of enhancing management outcomes.

“It’s really important we strip away the reams of red tape, remind them of the importance of the social licence, but most importantly to work effectively with the industry so we can create more jobs, boost income, and increase our international revenue.

“The yearly increase of levies is going to come to an end. We’ve got to do more in New Zealand with less. We’ve got to think smarter,” said Jones.

A dialogue framework has been established so that every four months industry leaders will meet with the Ministry for Primary Industries, which includes Fisheries New Zealand, to “find common ground” and work out “how we can get better returns and also improve sustainability”.

“Stop being adversarial, stop being belligerent, and start working together. That was my commitment to the fishing industry,” said Jones.

Seafood New Zealand chief executive Jeremy Helson is supportive of the cameras but has raised concerns, like the ongoing costs for the cameras to be monitored.

“It’s just simply not feasible to have cameras on every vessel. Some of them are very small, for some the system would be worth more than the vessel.”

He said privacy was also a worry for individuals and the industry, and he didn’t want intellectual property and commercial sensitivities to be compromised.

“Cameras in private workplaces is not something that we have in New Zealand and to impose that on the seafood industry is a conversation that needs to be had and safeguards need to be put in place.

“We don’t have government-mandated cameras in other people’s workplaces so I think we need to think very carefully as we progress down this path,” said Helson.

Jones said it was important that the privacy dimensions of using camera footage are highly guarded.

“I’m very keen to ensure that the official information provisions are not abused and used to demonise the industry.

“I’m not happy with the prospect that the information should fall into the wrong hands and be used to taint and stigmatise the industry,” he said.

Nathan Hines has been trawling the ocean off Timaru’s coast for 25 years, having started in the industry straight out of school.

The father-of-two was part of the camera rollout in 2023, given the area is home to the endangered Hector’s dolphin.

Hines said he believes it provides transparency “which is a good thing”.

“We’ve got nothing to hide and now we can actually prove it.”

However, he supports the Government getting more involved given how tough it is to be a fisher right now, especially with the costs of compliance and rising petrol prices.

“The other day at Pak’nSave they had a Kahawai, 2 kilo of Kahawai, $20 on the price tag. I just get paid a dollar for that fish.”

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