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Fisheries monitoring measures fast-tracked

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 23/05/2016

The government is speeding up the rollout of monitoring equipment on commercial fishing vessels.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says while work is already underway to install electronic monitoring and cameras on all commercial vessels, he's told officials it should be fast-tracked.

"This increased monitoring will provide greater transparency of the commercial fleet's activities and improve public confidence that our fisheries are being well managed," he said.

The fisheries management system has been in the spotlight following the recent release of a new study that claimed the number of fish caught in New Zealand waters over the last 60 years had been grossly under-reported.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has also launched an independent review of two of its own investigations into the possible illegal dumping of fish and the subsequent decisions not to prosecute.

But Mr Guy wouldn't say whether Tuesday's announcement was a direct response to those recent events.

"We were always going to go to 100 per cent camera coverage on these other fishing vessels, it's appropriate now that I ask for advice for that to be fast-tracked and brought forward," he told reporters.

Mr Guy conceded that there has been some discarding and dumping of fish going on, but he doesn't think it's a widespread problem.

"We do have some ratbags in the fishing industry, like any industry, and I expect the regulator to go very tough on them," he said.

An operational review of New Zealand's quota management system was announced last year.

Mr Guy expects the findings of the independent review into the MPI investigations will feed into that.

Meanwhile, German conservation group Nabu International has launched a campaign to urge McDonald's to stop using New Zealand fish in its burgers in a bid to save the Maui's and Hector's dolphins.

It has enlisted freediver William Trubridge to support the campaign to seek more government protection for the rare species.

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