Progress of electronic monitoring in the Snapper 1 trawl fishery

Some commercial fishers have volunteered to trial electronic monitoring on their fishing vessels in the Snapper 1 (SNA1) trawl fishery. Find out how the programme's progressing and how we're using results from the trials to inform the development of the nationwide digital monitoring programme.

Background to the SNA1 trial

A review of the management of the SNA1 fishery in 2013 raised concerns about juvenile mortality, discarding and waste by commercial fishers.  As part of a package of initiatives, the Government announced it would introduce 100% monitoring of the SNA1 trawl fleet.

The fishing industry sought to work with us to provide more transparency about their activities. Industry proposed using cameras to monitor the SNA1 trawl fishery.  

The outcome was an electronic monitoring trial to deliver on monitoring objectives for the Snapper 1 fishery while working through practical issues with the technology.

Learnings from this trial will be used to inform future expansion of the monitoring programme.

A map showing the position of fishing boats. In the top middle of the map is a snapshot taken from the live camera on one of the boats 
An example of the live position reporting and a snapshot from an on-vessel camera.

The objectives

The objectives of the SNA1 trawl monitoring trial are to:

  • record 100% of the fishing activity carried out by the SNA1 trawl fleet
  • increase verification of the total commercial catch in SNA1
  • record and report the volume of undersized snapper (SNX) that are being returned to the sea
  • support our monitoring of compliance with spatial and other fisheries regulations
  • increase the transparency of other commercial fishing activities that happen at sea.

The main focus of the trial is verification of fishers' reporting and to: 

  • test effectiveness of technology
  • improve the reliability of data
  • ensure better compliance with fisheries regulations
  • gain better understanding of numbers of juvenile snapper killed
  • provide more transparency around commercial fishing operations
  • develop and test processes to support monitoring of video footage and issue identification.

Who is involved with the trial?

The 3-year trial is a partnership between us and SNA 1 Commercial. SNA 1 Commercial is a collective of:

  • quota owners
  • licensed fish receivers
  • vessel operators and fishers.

Its members represent 95% of commercial fishing vessels and more than 95% of commercial fishing activity for snapper in the SNA1 area. 

Following initial trials of camera technology in 2014, a competitive tender process was run for a fixed-term 3-year contract for a larger electronic monitoring trial in the SNA1 trawl fishery and was awarded to Trident Systems, commencing in early 2016. Trident's shareholders are quota owning companies who have a long involvement in fisheries research and data collection.

As at October 2017, there are cameras on 16 trawl vessels in the Snapper 1 area (around the Bay of Plenty, Hauraki Gulf and the east coast of Northland). 

How it works

To collect video footage of the fishing vessels, to verify catch reporting by area fished, requires global positioning systems (GPS) and video camera technology. Usually 2 cameras are on each vessel. 

The objective to record 100% of fishing activity by the SNA1 trawl fleet is accomplished by cameras that record continuously. Footage is transferred from vessel to shore either wirelessly or by swapping storage units while in port. 

A number of requirements have been put in place to ensure the information collected is robust. 

  • All footage is encrypted and cannot be tampered with or altered. 
  • We have full access to all the footage at any time and can use it to support compliance investigations.
  • Our observers have also been deployed on the fleet during this programme.  

Information on progress from the trial

Trident reviews the footage of 30% of all fishing trips, selected at random. We also conduct our own audit, providing quality assurance for the Trident review. 

Trident is required to provide monthly reports to us to document the requirements met. Any problems or equipment issues are reported along with solutions. We meet with Trident to discuss the monthly report and provide feedback.

The monthly reports are updated regularly in a progress report. The progress report:

  • lists reported technical fixes
  • shows a summary of progress with technical issues and their solutions 
  • graphs the footage collected and the number of audit reviews
  • will be useful when implementing digital monitoring across the entire commercial fleet.

How the information we collect is used

The SNA1 electronic monitoring programme is designed to provide information that helps us manage New Zealand's fisheries. Information from the programme is assessed by our science working groups. This provides assurance of the integrity and quality of the information and data.

At the completion of the project and the science working groups' assessments, Fisheries New Zealand will report on information around the:

  • amount of SNX that are returned to the water
  • level of discards detected by the cameras.

Find out more

Who to contact

If you have questions about the information on this page, email

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