On-board cameras for commercial fishing vessels

Find out why we're using on-board cameras on commercial fishing vessels and how it'll work.

Wider rollout of cameras on boats to support sustainability and protect marine life – 17 June 2021

Hon. David Parker, Minister for Oceans and Fisheries announced on 17 June 2021 that approximately 300 inshore fishing vessels will be fitted with cameras by 2024.

Wider roll-out of cameras on boats to support sustainability and protect marine life – NZ Government

On-board cameras will provide independent, accurate information about commercial fishing activity and will provide more certainty and a greater evidence base to inform policy and regulation, scientific research, and fisheries management decisions.

The rollout of these cameras will be staged to prioritise the vessels that pose the greatest risk to protected species such as Hector’s and Māui dolphins, black petrels, and Antipodean albatross.

Fisheries New Zealand will be running a consultation in the coming weeks to discuss proposals on the details of the rollout, including:

  • which fishing vessels will get cameras
  • where and when they will be used
  • the level of industry contribution.

We plan to start the rollout of cameras in 2022.

Why on-board cameras?

On-board cameras give us independent information about what goes on at sea. They help verify catch reporting, and monitor fishing activity by commercial fishers, to encourage compliance with the rules.

Overseas experience shows that placing cameras on commercial fishing vessels greatly improves the quality of fisher-reported data.

For example, reports of interactions with seabirds and mammals increased 7 times when electronic monitoring was introduced to Australia’s longline fisheries in 2015. Overall reported catch remained the same.

Camera technologies have been used around the world on commercial fishing vessels for decades, and we have learnt a lot from fisheries overseas which are already using these systems.

How we're rolling out on-board cameras

New Zealand regulations for on-board cameras on commercial fishing vessels came into effect in 2018.

Since then, we’ve been developing the systems and processes to support this, and have now put cameras on some fishing vessels. The regulations applied to these vessels from 1 November 2019 in a defined fishing area on the west coast of the North Island.

Currently, a holding date of 1 October 2021 has been set before the on-board camera regulations apply to other commercial fishing vessels.

Verification and monitoring will be more important in some fisheries than others. The 1 November roll-out prioritised commercial fishing vessels with the greatest chance of encountering the critically endangered Māui dolphin.

This roll-out of on-board cameras allows us time to refine systems and processes before we consider expanding the camera programme across more of the commercial fishing fleet.

More information about the roll-out

To find out more, including privacy, and guidance and support for fishers, refer to:

The roll-out of on-board cameras on 1 November 2019

On-board camera regulations

Fisheries (Electronic Monitoring on Vessels) Regulations 2017 – NZ Legislation

Fisheries (Electronic Monitoring on Vessels) Amendment Regulations 2020 – NZ Legislation

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