Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Govt zooms in on commercial fishing vessel camera rollout

The Government has today confirmed key details of the nationwide rollout of cameras on commercial fishing vessels.

Up to 300 inshore fishing vessels will be fitted with the technology by the end of 2024, providing independent, accurate information about fishing activity and better evidence for decision-making, announced Oceans and Fisheries Minister, David Parker.

“It will be supported by cutting-edge artificial intelligence software that will help put New Zealand at the forefront of camera monitoring technology,” the Minister said.

“The software uses machine learning to recognise relevant activity for recording. When the software detects activities such as net setting or hauling, the cameras move into high-definition capture and the relevant footage is stored and marked for upload. This reduces footage storage and review costs, and better protects the privacy of fishers,” he said.

Spark Business Group has been appointed as the prime supplier to manage the rollout, training and support for the installation of on-board cameras. The group includes a number of New Zealand technology companies.

Their solution is innovative and positioned to incorporate future technology, while remaining cost effective, the Minister said.

He said the rollout would be staged so that vessels posing the greatest risk to at-risk protected species, such as Hector’s and Māui dolphins and hoiho, will get cameras first.

“Trawl and set net vessels operating off the West Coast of the North Island will receive the first cameras from August. Those vessels are expected to be transmitting footage to Fisheries New Zealand from 30 November,” said Mr Parker.

The cost of the rollout is expected to be $68 million over four years, with approximately $10 million of this to be recovered from the industry. From the 2025/26 fishing year, costs recovered from industry will be aligned with standard fisheries cost recovery provisions, the Minister said.

The rollout will include all vessels that use the following fishing methods:

  • Set net vessels (eight metres or larger), surface longline, and bottom longline vessels
  • Trawlers of 32 metres or less, except those targeting scampi, and danish and purse seine vessels.

“Internationally there are between 1,500 and 2,000 vessels that have been equipped with on-board cameras. Our system adds several innovations that build on what is in use in other jurisdictions so far.”

“Once the rollout is complete, it will increase the global total of vessels with cameras by about 15%.

“Consumer decisions are increasingly driven by environmental factors, and this is another step towards providing assurance about New Zealand’s premium and sustainably sourced seafood products,” said Mr Parker.

Public feedback was sought on the details of the camera rollout, including which vessels would get cameras, how they would be prioritised, and what level of contribution should be made by industry.

The wider rollout will add to the 15 cameras already in operation in the Māui dolphin habitat off the West Coast of the North Island.

Fisheries New Zealand will be working closely with the sector on the rollout.

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