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The trial of cameras in the Snapper 1 Fishery

9 June 2017

The trial of cameras in the Snapper 1 Fishery

The Ministry for Primary Industries commissioned a trial of cameras on commercial trawl fishing boats operating in the Snapper 1 (SNA 1) fishery in order to test the feasibility of using cameras to achieve a range of monitoring objectives.

The cameras are a tool to verify catch reporting of snapper (including the volume of fish below the minimum legal size) and identify illegal activity, including dumping.

The crew placed all fish into bins, which were then shown to the cameras before undersize fish were returned to the sea as required by law. Estimates of catch by weight were based on the number of bins shown to the camera.

The trial was not intended, nor therefore was it set up, to identify the size of individual fish caught.

A draft report was prepared by two MPI staff members, on their own initiative, which looked at the feasibility of using footage to assess individual fish size. This report was never finalised as there were flaws with its approach, including that:

• the report was not based on the technology used in the SNA 1 trial

• its draft conclusions were already known before the trial began, and therefore didn’t warrant further investigation.

The Services Agreement with Trident, and the Memorandum’s of Understanding with the fishers involved have made it explicitly clear that where illegal activity is seen on the footage from the trial, that it can, and will, be used to support enforcement and prosecutions. To date 25 instances of concern have been identified from the review of SNA 1 footage and are being further investigated.

The Integrated Electronic Monitoring System (IEMRS) that MPI is currently developing will not use the technology from the Snapper 1 trial, however it has taken the lessons learned on board.

The combination of position tracking, electronic reporting, and cameras on boats is expected to be a significant deterrent to illegal activity, as it will provide robust evidence for prosecutions, as well as an important source of information for making fisheries management decisions.

Alongside development of the IEMRS programme, MPI is developing a range of policy options around the landing and discards of fish.


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