Tuesday, 8 December - Wellington: Greenpeace activists have this morning installed a bycatch Christmas tree outside the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, urging them to give New Zealand the gift of cameras on boats this festive season.
The four metre high tree is adorned with ‘bycatch baubles’ - paper maché stingrays, dolphins, penguins and turtles - to represent those caught and killed in the process of commercial fishing.
Greenpeace oceans campaigner Jessica Desmond says New Zealanders have had enough of the political pass the parcel, and that it’s time for the Ministry to finally deliver on camera promises.
"We’re here today because New Zealand’s unmonitored commercial fishing fleet is causing critical damage to the oceans and the animals that live there," she says.
"Cameras on boats are proven to increase transparency and better behaviour from the commercial fishing industry, and that’s essential if we want to protect the oceans for the future.
"Previous governments have failed to prioritise this issue time after time, but we have faith that this Government can deliver a Christmas miracle, and show us the plan for getting cameras on 100% of the commercial fishing fleet by the end of 2023."
In September, the then Minister of Fisheries Stuart Nash announced his intention to commit funds to a cameras on boats programme. However his pledge only amounts to one third of the fleet having cameras, and not till after the next election in 2023.
Desmond says this will be too little, too late.
"Successive governments have kicked this can down the road on this. What we’re asking of them today is: show us the plan. New Zealanders are fed up of being fobbed off.
"The technology for this already exists, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel here, all we need leadership to do now is lead."
A three piece choir is also on site singing a unique take on the Twelve Days of Christmas, detailing marine life that currently dies at the hands of the commercial fishing industry.