Electronic reporting ‘valuable tool’
The accuracy of non-refutable information of where we harvest and what we catch will be invaluable when areas come under pressure from competing groups or environmental organisations. Often the industry has suffered when precautionary decisions are made due to the lack of information or there is uncertainty of the accuracy of the information.
The Federation has worked hard in the IEMRS space to ensure that MPI fully understands what is practically happening on the water but there will always be something that has been overlooked or not considered.
Whilst we move into an environment of more compliance and greater transparency of our information and operations the concerning area for me is the ageing fleet and the skippers and crews that work on those vessels.
When I first got into the industry in 1986 the Taranaki fishermen and crew were aged 20-40 and were an enthusiastic and motivated group of harvesters. Now the majority of the fisherman are 50-70 and looking to want to exit the industry in the next 5-10 years.
This group of fishermen have worked hard through some very stressful periods especially when productive fishing areas were being lost to protect dolphins that none of them had seen. These guys have done the hard yards and have got their businesses into positions where they are sustainable over the longer term and they know that they are blessed with a healthy and productive fishery on their back door.
The big issue for them now is finding motivated young crew who are prepared to work hard, listen and learn. They are also concerned about who they can train to take over and purchase their business when they want to step back, enjoy life and take things a bit easier.
The skill base that these experienced fishers have can’t be learned overnight and if we don’t start attracting young people into the harvesting sector the industry is going to leave a lot of ACE and fish in the water which will not benefit the local economy or industry. The Federation is keen to support initiatives that benefit the harvesting sector and it would be good to get useful feedback on what can be done to attract motivated, capable and young people into the fishing industry.
Keith Mawson owns Egmont Seafoods, New Plymouth. He is a long-time member of the Federation executive and sits on the Southern Inshore Finfish Board