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Radio NZ recently aired an in-depth 

Insight piece “Will Cameras End 

Commercial Fish Dumping? Com-

mercial fishers are extremely ner-

vous as the camera clock counts 

down and Minister Guy cannot 

say he did not know that industry 

would collapse. Only two options 

remain to him – establish a compre-

hensive review to fix the problem 

once and for all, or continue to hide 

and mislead the public about it.

Half of New Zealand’s inshore fish-

ing fleet could be put out of busi-

ness following the introduction of 

cameras to monitor fish dumping.

That’s the prediction of Auck-

land University academic Dr 

Glenn Simmons, as the govern-

ment moves towards installing 

cameras on all commercial boats 

starting in October next year.

The start date for the cameras was 

brought forward last year after a se-

ries of headlines around the failure 

of the Ministry for Primary Industries 

to prosecute those found dump-

ing fish. But commercial fishers say 

they should not be turned on until 

problems are first sorted out with 

the quota management system, as 

they have little control over what 

their trawl nets pull up and they of-

ten contain up to 30 different types 

of fish, many of them undersized.

This in itself is a lie as the commer-

cial industry does have control over 

what their net pull up – all they 

have to do is fish somewhere else, 

change their nets to be selective 

which some have done, or change 

their fishing methods to say line 

fishing. Instead, industry don’t want 

to do anything other than somehow 

make their wasteful illegal practices 

legal by sorting out the “world lead-

ing” quota management system. 

 

Commercial fisher Tony Threadwell 

told Radio NZ that “It would be very 

very difficult for any inshore fisher-

men in New Zealand today to go 

to sea and not commit a technical 

offence and that’s just ridiculous… 

There needs to be a credible and 

practical discards policy that allows 

us to continue to work in an envi-

ronment without breaking the law.”

Commercial fishers state that it’s 

hard for fishers to talk about what 

is really going on for fear they’ll be 

prosecuted - but most know the 

rules around dumping are not work-

ing. By their own admission, our 

“world leading” quota management 

system needs sorting out after all.

The NZ system requires fishers to 

bring most so-called worthless quo-

ta fish home, even though they are 

destined for the landfill and take up 

valuable space on boats that could 

be used to stow fish they can sell.

Yet overseas systems ensure that 

all fish is landed and utilized fully, 

nothing is wasted and the fil-

lets are the least valuable part of 

the fish. Hardly surprising but ar-

gued against by the NZ industry.

However if commercial fishers 

had any backbone they would 

force the government to do the 

right thing, by standing up against 

the large quota holders and fish-

ing companies that have forced 

them into the situation they are in.

Auckland University’s Dr Glenn 

Simmons says they are right to be 

nervous. “That is going to have a 

significant economic impact on 

their ability to turn a profit and if 

the cameras are monitored cor-

rectly, and complemented with ob-

server coverage, we will definitely 

see half the fleet go out of business.”

The Minister for Primary Indus-

tries, Nathan Guy, admits there 

are problems and government is 

continuing to consult with lob-

byists of quota owners on the 

final shape of its review of the 

sector, but not the fishermen 

and ignoring recreational input.

In October 2014 David Turner Di-

rector Fisheries Management sent 

out an email stating that fisher-

ies management “haven’t covered 

themselves in glory...they have 

just gone about it very poorly. Dis-

carding is a systemic failure of the 

current system and something 

we have not been able to get on 

top of from day 1 of the QMS. We 

suspect they are significant to the 

point that they are impacting on 

fish stocks. I have spent the last 5 

months considering discards and 

see this as the single biggest issue 

we face in our wild stock fisheries.”

In an interview on Radio NZ Morn-

ing Report, when asked to further 

explain Turner cunningly hedged 

around answering the question. 

Was this because he was scared of 

clarifying the truth as maybe he was 

likely to lose his job. Omission is the 

same as blatantly lying, so how can 

we now take what he or anything 

else from MPI says, as credible.

And now we have Turner’s subordi-

nate Steve Halley manager inshore 

fisheries, covering up and lying 

about the facts. Little wonder that 

Steve Halley’s industry nickname 

is “Comet, because he flies around 

putting on a light show but leaves 

nothing behind of substance”. 

Comet, how about some honesty?

Why are so many commercial fish-

ers concerned that they will lose 

their livelihoods when cameras are 

introduced? Is it because cameras 

will stop them from dumping their 

so-called worthless fish and replac-

ing them with valuable ones. Hard-

working small inshore commercial 

fishers are coping most of the flak 

and while they are most likely to 

lose their businesses, the larger 

fishing companies that force them 

to dump because of their shopping 

lists, will continue unchallenged.

On one hand it appears that fish 

dumping, underreporting, hiding 

the killing of dolphin and seabirds 

is prevalent otherwise the industry 

wouldn’t have any concerns. And 

on the other hand we have MPI 

regulators saying that the fishery 

is in good health everything’s fine 

and honky-dory, but dumping and 

underreporting are significant. So 

why all the denials Minister Guy?

The public have a right to know 

that MPI regulators have embel-

lished, covered up and blatantly 

lied about the problem. Industry 

has done the same. Now with the 

introduction of cameras they are 

running scared. Yet camera com-

panies also say that cameras have 

their issues, and are not able to 

fully film what happens at sea.

So let’s look at a few of the issues:

Information leaks from se-

nior MPI managers who are 

disgusted with MPI practices;

The blatant cover-ups, ly-

ing and deceit by MPI about 

dumping and underreporting;

The lack of prosecutions 

against commercial offenders;

Refusal by MPI to release opera-

tional reports showing blatant 

dumping and underreporting;

Giving a camera contract to an indus-

try owned company versus a tested 

and proven international company;

Admissions by camera companies 

that there were significant issues 

with the cameras – not full proof;

The cutting of observer cov-

erage on inshore vessels;

Denials of dolphin by-

catch by DoC and MPI staff;

Implementation of ‘offal discard sys-

tems’ in the hulls of the new fishing 

vessels which allows for unwanted 

fish to be minced and discharged 

as chum under fishing boats;

Admissions by fishing skip-

pers that the QMS system ur-

gently needs a review versus 

the Minister’s refusal to do so;

A Westpac Bank report stating the 

industry as a failing and archaic 

industry not suitable for investors;

Mismanagement of cray-

fish in the CRA 2 area;

Boat ramp surveys carried 

out over ten years by fish-

ing clubs that refute MPI sci-

ence, which are ignored by MPI. 

Industry’s refusal to supply prod-

uct to NZ outlets enabling the 

black market industry to thrive;

These highlight the very issues 

which have alarmed thousands of 

recreational fishers. Minister Guy 

you need to start sorting out MPI 

from the top and the quota man-

agement system, or on Saturday 

23 September 2017 recreational 

fishers will sort you and your gov-

ernment out! Nothing less than an 

independent Commission of In-

quiry will suffice. Like the fishermen 

Minister Guy yours and your gov-

ernment’s clock is counting down.

Cameras could force half of all fishers out

OPINION – by Graham Carter

The Oceania Fly Fishing Cham-

pionships are to be held from 

April 6th to April 8th between 

New Zealand and Australia. 

Sport Fly Fishing New Zealand 

are asking all anglers to consider 

being a controller for the event.

They will need 10 controllers  from 

Wednesday night 5 April through 

to and including Saturday 8 April.  

They will also need another 10 

controllers from Friday night 7 

April to help control on Saturday.  

All controlling will be on the Whan-

ganui River, with two sessions on 

Thursday, two sessions on Friday 

and one session on Saturday.  

All anglers and controllers will 

be accommodated at the Park 

Hotel Ruapehu, National Park.  

All anglers and controllers will 

make their own arrangements for 

breakfast (they anticipate that most 

will make themselves some cereal 

and toast in the communal kitch-

en).  Pack lunches and dinners are 

provided for all controllers and An-

glers.   All transport to and from the 

river will be provided.  All anglers 

and controllers and other support 

people will attend the closing din-

ner and prize giving.  Accommoda-

tion on Saturday night is included.

This is an ideal opportunity to 

watch competition anglers from 

New Zealand and Australia.

Flyfishing Controllers Wanted

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