The programme was announced today at the Federation of Commercial Fishermen Conference in Nelson and is additional to a similar programme already instigated in the deepwater and surface long-line sectors.
Fisheries Inshore New Zealand chief executive, Dr Jeremy Helson, said while the vast majority of vessels already practised extensive mitigation measures this programme codified and extended the care the fleet was taking.
“We share our sea with birds, marine mammals, protected fish and marine reptiles and, on occasion will unavoidably capture some. We recognise these impacts and will do all we can to reduce harm to a minimum,” said Helson.
The programme has been developed in conjunction with the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Department of Conservation with the intent to have all vessels fitted with an individual plan and the associated crew trained in the risk reduction techniques by 2020.
“Vessels fishing deepwater species and those fishing in the surface long line sectors already have these plans in place and the addition of the inshore fleet will mean almost every vessel in New Zealand waters will be operating under this best practice,” said Helson.
The programme will consist of;
a set of Operational Procedures for the mitigation of risk to protected species, one for each fleet or subfleet as operators consider appropriate. These will be prepared in consultation with operators and interested parties;
a vessel-specific risk mitigation plan for each vessel, setting out how they will mitigate risks through management of attractants - offal, waste, fish - and how they will mitigate the risk from gear and fishing activity;
a set of voluntary triggers or notifiable capture events to initiate a review of mitigation measures
an auditing of utilisation on the water by monitoring; and
an auditing of performance by a joint committee of MPI, DOC and industry representatives
The vessel-specific plans will be retained on vessels and used to train new crew. MPI Observers coming on vessels will report on whether the vessels are operating according to the vessel plan.
“We take the impact of our activities seriously and will continue to improve our performance,” said Helson.