No prosecutions yet from new MPI fishing boat camera trials

Official figures show the trial of cameras on commercial boats has identified more than 130 compliance issues - but so far, no one has been prosecuted.

Cameras are currently being trialled on boats out on the Hauraki Gulf, one of New Zealand's most important fisheries.

But so far, the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) has only viewed 15.7 percent of all video received - roughly 87,000 hours.

Stuart Anderson, director of Fisheries Management for MPI, said part of the trial was learning how the review process would work.

"Part of the trial was to assess the technology," he said. "We've worked through it. We've learned some valuable lessons from that.

"It does take more work to review the footage than we thought."

But the Fisheries Minister doesn't think MPI has enough resources.

"No they don't; 15 percent is still a significant amount considering the number of hours," said Minister Stuart Nash.

From what has been viewed, the offences have been stacking up.

Of the 133 cases of suspected non-compliance, six cases of fish coded as recreational catch when they were caught with commercial nets has been found.

Also not recorded were 44 cases of non-quota species being discarded, 14 cases of seafloor material being dredged up, four cases of seabird catches and 15 catches of undersized fish.

Although five compliance investigations were launched and two are still underway, no fishing company or individual has been prosecuted.

Russel Norman, the executive director of Greenpeace which obtained the figures, doesn't believe that's right.

"I think if we expect that the fishing industry is going to follow the rules, then the fishing industry A) needs to know they're going to get caught, and B) they need to know they will be prosecuted," he said.

"And, of course, what this shows us is that neither of those things are happening."

In 17 cases, no charges were laid because two years have passed and it's now outside of the statute of limitations.

"What we don't want to do is prosecute when we don't think we can win. Part of this is about educating fishermen and women about what our expectations are - what the law is," said Mr Nash.

And while they're apparently educating, there's actually no certainty the trial means anything permanent. Cameras on fishing vessels will need Cabinet approval first.