Firm hired to monitor commercial fishing loses footage

There's been an embarrassing botch up by the company the Government is trusting to monitor illegal fishing in the North Island.

The company trusted by the government to monitor illegal fishing lost 80% of its camera footage in the first three months. Source: 1 NEWS

The Ministry for Primary Industries has admitted up to 80 per cent of camera footage has been lost during the first three months of their pilot programme.

Flash new on board cameras were MPI's big answer to cleaning up the fishing industry's battered reputation.

This followed revelations that some South Island fishermen were escaping prosecution for catching endangered Hector's Dolphins and dumping up to 100 per cent of their quota fish hauls so they could catch bigger and better ones.

Now 1 News can reveal almost all of the cameras watching the North Island's Snapper 1 fleet have failed with footage missing for up to a month on some vessels.

Trident Systems Chief Executive, David Middleton said Trident, "had a very high failure rate, we've replaced about 80% of the cameras that we initially put out".

Commercial Fisherman, Dave Moore said "all of the fishermen themselves would like that to be ironed out and maintain the integrity of the programme".

David Middleton says they've largely solved issues with water damage, power supply and transmitting footage by wifi.

But now their new equipment is struggling with signal interference.

"What we're anticipating is that over the next two years of the programme we've actually got over the teething difficulties."

Greenpeace Chief Executive, Russell Norman said the trial had been a fiasco.

Trident was a controversial choice to be MPI's eyes at sea because the company is owned by the seafood industry.

Trident Systems Chairman, Jeremy Fleming, disputes the suggestion that Trident is responsible for monitoring compliance, saying the intention of the trial was not for policing purposes.

"Trident is not contracted to be a policeman so its not guarding itself, the contract isn't for surveillance and enforcement its a science based contract".

But MPI's stated objective for the contract which was eventually won by Trident was "the provision of a three year Electronic Monitoring Programme" and Greenpeace's CEO is questioning why Trident was chosen instead of globally respected Canadian company Archipelago, whose leaked "Achilles" report revealed widespread illegal fish dumping was going unpunished.

"What on earth is MPI up to? Why did they choose a company that had no record of being able to deliver and was owned by the fishing industry."

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says technical issues are to be expected when trialling new technology, and MPI observers on some vessels provide an extra check.

MPI wants a law change to require cameras on all commercial vessels.

But says no decision has been made on which company will roll that out.