A world-leading solution?

Dr Randall Bess
Insights Newsletter
9 June, 2017

The 2017 Budget brought a boost to fisheries management intended to enhance New Zealand’s much-touted world-leading Quota Management System. The Minister for Primary Industries announced $30.5 million towards a world-leading Integrated Electronic Monitoring and Reporting System (IEMRS).

According to the Minister, IEMRS will provide us with “the most transparent and accountable commercial fishery anywhere in the world … every fishing vessel can be monitored at all times … and any illegal activity dealt with.”

The Minister and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) should be commended for fast tracking IEMRS. It is well overdue.

Advances in electronic fisheries reporting systems will provide a better and timelier understanding of total catches than the current paper-based system riddled with errors and delays.

However, on-board automated camera monitoring systems are more challenging.

Earlier this week, Newshub reported that another MPI report had been leaked. This report reviews the camera monitoring systems used on a trial basis in the snapper 1 fishery. The trial uses cameras from Archipelago Marine Research in British Columbia and Trident Systems, the latter owned by a consortium of New Zealand quota holders.

The report found the quality of the camera footage it recorded was too poor to be used to determine the size of snapper. As such, it may not support prosecutions for illegal discarding of snapper in relation to its 25 centimetre commercial minimum legal size.

And, while MPI and the Minister rubbished this report, the Minister acknowledged that “No camera in the world can do that for size.

Well, that will depend on how the fish is presented. The MPI report refers to several systems around the world that can precisely measure fish length by controlling the position of the fish relative to the camera.

For example, Archipelago’s system accommodates a calibrated chute that allows fish to pass beneath a camera mounted 1.5 or 2.5 metres directly above. The MPI report’s research was based on a distance of 8 metres.

Trident Systems’ Chairman confirmed that the snapper 1 trial system’s intent is primarily for research purposes, not enforcement.

If IEMRS will be world-leading, the system should be designed to the best standards for research and enforcement purposes – while weighing the system’s costs against the benefits for different types of vessels.

We look forward to seeing what the Minister delivers. 

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