Following recent developments in the New Zealand government’s proposal to put cameras on commercial fishing boats:
“Overfishing and fish dumping – and what to do about it – is causing tension, with conservationists and those who make their living from the sea each telling a different story.
The winds of change are blowing through the fishing industry.
The Future of Our Fisheries review is under way, including a plan to install cameras on all commercial fishing boats.
The idea is that this will reassure the public and valuable overseas markets that our fishers are playing by the rules set down in the quota management system around practices such as fish dumping.”
From the article “Insight: Will Cameras End Commercial Fish Dumping?”, Radio NZ, on 14 March 2017 .
This all started a year earlier with this admission:
“The Ministry for Primary Industries has admitted that illegal fish dumping is so widespread that if the rules were properly enforced over half of inshore fishers would go out of business.”
Now, just short of a year later, we have this:
“A proposal is currently before the government to install cameras across the entire fleet to monitor illegal fish dumping or the by-catch of sea birds or dolphins.
A letter written to the Ministry for Primary Industries last year by the industry said footage gathered from fishing boats could be requested under the Official Information Act by those with an “anti-fishing agenda” and used to paint the industry in a bad light.
One of the five industry heads who signed the letter, Daryl Sykes from the Rock Lobster Industry Council, said there needed to be an exemption so the footage was never made public.
“Judicious editing of the available footage could be used to portray a situation that is entirely out of context,” he said.
“It’s that lack of control over the way that the end product is used, the lack of editorial control over the way the film material might be edited, all of those things contribute to the industry concern generally.”
As well as breaching the privacy of fishers as they got changed on board boats, footage obtained under the OIA could also be used by competitors to locate secret fishing spots and methods, he said.
Ensuring New Zealand had a good reputation for ethically caught fish was up to the industry, not the government, he said.”
“However the chief executive for Forest and Bird, Kevin Hague, said concerns about privacy and commercial sensitivity were just a smoke screen for the real reasons the industry wanted to keep the footage secret.
“The industry’s real motivation is that they don’t want the public to see dead dolphins, penguins, albatrosses and the wholesale dumping of large quantities of fish,” he said.
“All of those things that the industry rightly perceives the public would be deeply concerned about.”
If the industry had nothing to hide then it should have no objection to showing the public what was going on out at sea, he said.
“Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Actually having the public being able to see images from the boats and then the industry explaining what requires explaining is actually the sensible thing, not just to keep it out of public view.”
My personal opinion on this matter is that if the fishing industry doesn’t want the world to see their dirty doings and wasteful fishing practices, then DON’T DO IT! Keeping footage secret only arouses deeper suspicion, and eventually, inevitably, it all comes out. No one likes secrets joined to a perceived lack of accountability. If the fishing industry wants to look good, then they should act good!
Ultimately, if our wasteful fishing practices continue, the industry will, eventually, be it’s own undoing.
One cannot catch fish if there aren’t any left.