An entity awarded a government contract to monitor the fishing industry is owned by some of the industry's biggest companies, Greenpeace says.
Earlier this week, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy fast-tracked work to install electronic monitoring and cameras on all commercial vessels to provide greater transparency of the commercial fleet's activities.
The fisheries management system has been in the spotlight following the recent release of a new study that claimed the number of fish caught in New Zealand waters over the last 60 years had been grossly under-reported.
Now, Greenpeace New Zealand has revealed the entity given the contract to install cameras, Trident Systems, is part-owned by seafood company Sanford, and a selection of other Kiwi seafood and fishing companies.
"This is like the fox guarding the henhouse," says Greenpeace executive director Russell Norman.
He said it was "especially troubling" because three separate Ministry for Primary Industries investigations indicated Sanford was either engaged in potential illegal activities, or their supplier vessels were.
"We've now seen several leaked MPI investigation reports that variously found that fishing companies were not reporting all of the fish they caught, misreporting fish weight, discarding huge amounts of dead fish, and not reporting dolphin deaths."
Trident is also housed in the same office building as Seafood New Zealand, an industry lobby group, he said.
"Trident appears to be anything but an independent and objective watchdog for the industry."
An independent Commission of Inquiry is needed into MPI and its regulation of the fishing industry, he said.
Sanford chief executive Volker Kuntzsch says Greenpeace should be supporting the industry as it tries to monitor fisheries.
The industry partnerships with Trident are no secret, he says.
"We have been pushing to have electronic monitoring fast tracked so that in real time all vessel owners, MPI and fishing companies can track, monitor and report what's happening on the water."
He said he welcomed MPI's appointment of a QC to review its processes in regard to its investigations.
Trident Systems told Newshub in a statement that they are contracted to gather specific observational data from the footage, while MPI also has access to the footage.
"This, together with the fact that science information designed for fisheries management must be assessed via the peer review process defined by the Research and Science Information Standard for New Zealand Fisheries, provides assurance of the integrity and quality of the information derived from the programme."
Trident Systems says trials of the use of video observation in monitoring New Zealand fisheries began in 2003, but the SNA1 programme is the first operational programme.
"Trident works in collaboration with other research providers and with seafood companies, to integrate research into their normal operations. This collaborative approach is central to the SNA1 programme."
NZN / Newshub.