MPI video monitoring “not a proper substitute” for fisheries inspectors

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The Ministry for Primary Industries needs to rethink its strategy around using video monitoring to protect against fish dumping, the Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi says.

Academics and environmental protection groups have criticised MPI’s decision to allow Trident, a private company wholly owned by the fishing industry, to provide video monitoring services.

The PSA is concerned about privatisation of this crucial service, especially to a company which could have a conflict of interest.

“Even though it is technically independent, a company wholly owned by 14 fishing quota-holders is not best placed to monitor its own industry,” PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay says.

“Despite assurances from the minister and MPI, this is a case of the fox guarding the hen-house, surely.

“Once again, this is a case of the government privatising an important service – where the outcome may not be in the best interests of New Zealand.”

Mr Barclay says video monitoring should not be seen as a replacement for observers on boats.

“These people are employed by MPI on a per-journey basis, and the ministry refuses to let them be part of the current collective agreement.

“They have no guarantee of continuing employment, and they’re vulnerable to whatever changes MPI wants to make in the Quota Management System.

“We want observers kept in-house, not contracted out – and we want them to have secure employment, covered by the same terms and conditions as other MPI staff.

“Observers are getting a raw deal, and yet they’re still largely responsible for maintaining the legal and sustainable management of our fisheries.”