Secret recording captures Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash's strategy to remove cost of cameras on boats

A secret recording has captured more information from Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash about the cost of cameras on fishing boats.

In the 2018 clip, Nash comes up with a strategy to remove the cost - one of the industry's key concerns.

"They keep talking to me about cost. So I have said to officials if this is going to cost $20,000, then let's come up with some innovative scheme where these guys can rent cameras or lease them or rent to buy. But we will come up with a scheme that will mitigate the cost argument," he is heard saying.

Cameras on boats are supposed to verify catch and prevent dumping and other illegal behaviour.

Since the recording, cameras have only made it onto 20 boats, not the 1000 as originally planned. But Nash is still considering financial help for the commercial sector.

"We're just looking at various models at this time," he said.

When asked if the Government could end up paying for them, he reiterated various models were being looked at and they were planning how they were going to implement them.

"Various options are being discussed."

The other key problem, according to the Government, is that camera technology is not good enough. 

But cameras on fishing boats are not new. In fact, they've been trialled by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) since at least 2014, when widespread illegal fish dumping was filmed on multiple vessels in the South Island.

The commercial industry is worried about "blanket surveillance" of fishermen, and who could access the footage, Seafood NZ CEO Dr Jeremy Helson says.

"We've been talking with the Government about our concerns about cameras for a number of years. We are not anti-cameras, but we just want to make sure they're deployed very thoughtfully."

He says "two million hours of footage" would come from cameras on all vessels every year.

But MPI says those reviewing footage from the 20 vessels that already have cameras are "not overloaded". 

And the ENL Group, the company that installed the cameras, told Newshub: "The technology was installed in a short period of time. There are no technical issues."

Greenpeace executive director Russel Norman says the industry is using technical issues to "try and block progress".

"This isn't like putting people on Mars. This is putting video cameras on fishing boats." 

On Friday, three of our biggest fishing companies, Sanford, Moana & Sealord issued a joint statement to say said they support the use of  cameras on boats and all three had already trialled them. 

They said while there were some technology issues, they believed the complexities could be managed.