Aquaculture for all

Catch Reportring Goes Electronic


NEW ZEALAND - Fisheries Minister Hon Phil Heatley has announced the introduction of electronic catch reporting, a move that will bring an important part of the fisheries process into the modern day and save all parties considerable time and money.

The change, effective from 1 October, will allow the fishing industry to use computer technology to report their catch directly to the government electronically.

"In these tight economic times, it's crucial that while we work towards more sustainable fisheries we also get more efficient and look at ways to cut costs and increase flexibility," Mr Heatley said.

All commercial fishers are legally required to report the fish they catch to the government. This catch reporting provides important information for monitoring catch levels and the health of fish stocks as well as ensuring that fishers do not exceed their catch entitlements under the Quota Management System.

Currently each of the 170,000 catch reports completed each year must be filled out by hand on paper forms, mailed in, manually data entered and then scanned for filing. Around 27,000 forms a year have to be returned and resubmitted due to errors and problems interpreting handwriting.

"This is a laborious, manual process that costs the fishing industry over $2 million a year in levies to administer. These changes should reduce the industry's annual costs significantly," Mr Heatley said.

New rules will allow fishers to use computerised reporting systems that will capture catch information and electronically report accurate data directly to Fish Serve (a fishing industry owned company that administers the catch reporting regime under contract to the Ministry of Fisheries). This system has been proposed by industry leaders for many years.

After the successful completion of a pilot scheme, scheduled to start in early 2010, electronic reporting will be rolled out on all foreign charter fishing vessels and New Zealand fishing vessels fishing on the high seas. The system will then be available to all fishers who wish to use it.

"Electronic catch reporting will make better use of the technology we have and will bring significant cost savings to the industry and government" Mr Heatley said.

"This is good news for the fishing industry and good news for Government. I am very pleased to see the new system being developed."

The Minister of Fisheries electronic catch data has the full support of the seafood industry, said Owen Symmans, chief executive of the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council.

"This new electronic method of reporting has been proposed by industry for many years and we are really pleased to have the Minister's support in getting the system up and running. We look forward to the October 1 start date. The system will be more efficient, less costly and help us to continue to manage our fish stocks to the high standard we've set ourselves," said Mr Symmans.