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The New Zealand seafood industry welcomes the collection of additional information under the proposed Integrated Electronic Monitoring and Reporting System (IEMRS) but continues to await further details from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) on how this information will be shared.

Chief executive of Fisheries Inshore New Zealand (FINZ), Dr Jeremy Helson, says obtaining robust information pertinent to informing fisheries management decisions is vital, however it is important that issues of personal privacy, commercial sensitivity, and intellectual property are considered.

“The lack of detail provided by the previous government into how IEMRS would be implemented caused much frustration in the sector, as evidenced by a joint letter to MPI, and the announcement by the new Labour government that it would delay implementation to address unresolved issues was welcomed.

“IEMRS will capture a wide range of private information about people’s personal lives and commercial activities. The industry is simply seeking assurance that this information will be protected.

“We agree that the conclusions from data should be shared but would argue that very detailed information should only be available to MPI for fisheries management purposes and its wider release curtailed.

“What we want MPI to do is engage in a conversation about how we respect people’s rights and interests and get the balance right between transparency and releasing what is potentially quite sensitive information.

“It's not necessarily about removing this data from being subject to the Official Information Act, it's about striking the right balance between the public’s legitimate interest in what goes on in the industry and protecting the individuals involved.

“We want to get the balance right and make sure that information is released in an appropriate way and with the appropriate context.

“This is workplace data collection on a scale never before seen in New Zealand and, if it is used for anything other than to inform better fisheries management, should sound a loud alarm to wider New Zealand,” said Helson.