Conservationists trying to protect endangered species of dolphins aren't happy with a government decision to pause a rollout of electronic monitoring on many commercial fishing vessels.
On Friday Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash said he had instructed Ministry for Primary Industries officials to look at options for slowing down the implementation of the Integrated Electronic Monitoring and Reporting System on commercial fishing vessels.
Requirements covering the catch and position reporting for trawl vessels over 28m, in place since October 1, 2017, will continue but implementation for other vessels will be deferred.
All commercial fishers were going to be required to use Geospatial Position Reporting and e-logbooks by April 1, 2018, and cameras by October 1, 2018.
Those representing fishers who catch crabs and other species in small quantities had argued the system was a burden and the time frames were too tight.
Mr Nash said fishing needed to be sustainably managed but systems needed to be robust and "in the interests of all stakeholders".
On Sunday Christine Rose, chairwoman of Maui and Hector's Dolphin Defenders NZ, said the decision was a huge setback for conservation.
"Electronic observer coverage is essential to properly manage by-catch. Evidence from electronic monitoring trials showed horrific, unreported fish dumping and the death of Hector's dolphins," she said.
Research showed up to three times as many fish and non-target species are caught and dumped than are landed and recorded in catch records, she said.
The Government must get on top of the issues of by-catch, waste, under-reporting and non-compliance.
"The National Government was no friend of conservation, but the new Labour Government has shown itself in this move, to be no friend of science, or conservation either", Mrs Rose said.
She said both the minister, and the new Ministry of Fisheries had failed their first test.