Measures to improve trust in fishing industry welcomed
New Government measures to improve fish stocks, boost confidence in the industry, and provide valuable data are being lauded.
Over the next six months, the Ministry for Primary Industries plans to roll out observers on vessels operating within the 50m depth contour.
Yesterday the ministry released the discussion document for their “the Future of our Fisheries” programme – which is about getting the maximum value from fisheries by getting better information faster and improving decision-making processes.
Regulations would be brought in on electronic reporting and monitoring of commercial fishing activities, and to enable the development of innovative trawl technologies.
Tukituki MP Craig Foss said this document would provide a clearer picture of recreational fishing in the region, with the roll-out enabling profiling of each catch, and providing more information on the state of our local fishery.
“That 50m area has been a bit of contention for a while, so it’s a good step in the right direction,” he said. “I really hope it’ll build data trust, and a bit more knowledge about where we all go and fish.”
Overall, the Quota Management System (QMS) was working well but the discussion document highlights some areas where the region had an opportunity to improve, he said.
“I’m looking forward to the outcome of this rollout – it’ll be great to get some data on the table to better inform ongoing discussions between all fishing sectors.”
He thought there were around 20 large and small commercial fishing companies in Hawke’s Bay which would be involved.
Hopefully, the initiative would also restore confidence in the industry, which reflected concerns Mr Foss had been made aware of over the past year.
The roll-out was also being welcomed by Napier MP Stuart Nash, who launched a campaign earlier this year to ensure in-shore fish stocks returned to the healthy levels.
He had sought a 10-year moratorium on commercial fishing within a 50m depth from the shore.
Although there was more he would like to see from the Government in this sphere, he said yesterday’s announcement was “a step in the right direction”.
He hoped it would insure only the fish people had quotas for were caught, and that it would provide a clear idea of what was being caught.
After the industry had been “battered”, Mr Nash said. “Anything that can restore the public’s trust in the industry has got to be good.
“I’d say this has got to be welcomed by the fishing industry as well as by the general public.”
However, Mr Nash hoped MPI was transparent and reported on its findings – even if it were simple quarterly reports on “this is what’s been caught, this is the by catch, this is the percentage of under sized fish that are being caught”.
“Just something that gives us a quarterly snapshot of what is actually going on on these boats that are in shore fishing in Hawke Bay.
“This is a move in the right direction but… I would like to be assured that MPI are going to be transparent in the way they report what they find on these vessels.”
The region would be the first to experience this initiative, before it was eventually rolled out nationwide, Mr Foss said.
“It is a really good win for Hawke’s Bay”, he said. There had been a number of people – from MPI to commercial fishermen – working in this space for a long time.
“There’s still a lot more to do and we’ll all keep working on that.”
– Public consultation meetings, hui and workshops on the proposals will be held throughout the country over the next two months.
– There will be one held at the Napier Sailing Club, Wednesday, November 30 from 5pm to 7pm.