After advocating for years, WWF-New Zealand is thrilled we are able to celebrate the Government’s announcement to put cameras on over 300 commercial fishing boats. This long awaited announcement will improve the accountability and transparency in nearly half of our inshore fisheries catch.
WWF’s recent Living Planet Report 2020 showed that nature is in freefall with a 68% decline in species population sizes since 1970, and unsustainable fishing is impacting heavily on marine biodiversity. Fishing is the biggest threat to marine wildlife, due to the use of unselective fishing gear such as set nets (gillnets), purse seine, trawl nets, and longlines.
Thousands of fish, seabirds, and mammals die unintentionally each year as bycatch. Conservation of our most vulnerable cetacean, shark and turtle populations is only possible if effective ways to prevent and reduce bycatch are developed. Last year’s “What’s in The Net” report shows how cameras on boats dramatically improves the accuracy of reported by-catch.
“Cameras on boats create certainty around the impact fishing has on fish stocks and protected species such as seabirds, seals, dolphins, and whales. So to finally see, after years of advocating, the Government committing to better transparency is important for New Zealanders and our marine environment, says Dr Aroha Spinks, WWF-New Zealand’s Kaihautū Taiao / Environmental Science Director.
WWF commends the focus placed on the vessels that are a high risk for our protected species. “We are particularly pleased that there is a focus on the vessels that pose the highest risk to protected species. WWF looks forward to the data this will generate. We will finally get a true picture of the impact fisheries has on our wildlife which can enable better fisheries management, and help stop thousands of dolphins, seals, and seabirds from dying in our fisheries every year. It will also provide greater transparency for policymakers,scientists, and consumers,” continues Dr Spinks.
Increasing transparency and accountability in our oceans is the very least we can do to begin to restore the health of our moana. Over 80% of New Zealanders want better protection for our ocean. This is a great step towards making that happen.