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Cameras installed on trawlers to stop fish dumping

Tuesday 26 Nov 2013 5:09 p.m.

Within two years every commercial fishing trawler will be equipped with cameras to catch out any illegal dumping.

The move comes after reports tens of thousands of tonnes of fish go to waste every year because they fall outside allocated quotas.

The two cameras installed on The Corinthian don't bother its skipper Flea Reid.

"It's a bit different, not used to that sort of thing, but if it keeps everybody happy then at the end of the day you got nothing to hide. Just doing our job as usual," Mr Reid says.

They're designed to stop illegal dumping, where commercial trawlers get rid of their unwanted by-catch so they fish for more of what they want.

"Potentially provide 24-7 coverage so that we'll know what's happening when the net comes on board, what's been dumped, what's been kept, different species," says Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy.

Twenty-five percent of the commercial trawlers will have cameras or observers on board by December 1; the remainder of the fleet will follow by October 2015.

It's part of the new rules to be announced in September to maintain snapper stocks.

Recreational fishers' daily bag limits will drop from nine to seven, and the minimum size will increase from 27 to 30 centimetres.

But there was no change to the amount commercial fishing boats could catch, which angered the recreational side.

The minister's answer was to introduce cameras on trawlers, which will limit the commercial arm's impact on fish stocks.

"Ultimately it will mean the commercial sector will have to change some of their practices - they're up for that," Mr Guy says.

He also wants to see Precision Seafood Harvest (PSH) nets, designed to allow undersized fish to escape, on all boats in two years.

"It could revolutionise the whole commercial fishing fleet here in NZ. There's a lot of interest internationally," he says.

The PSH nets could remove the reason the commercial sector dumps fish in the first place.

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