Digital monitoring system for commercial fishing vessels

Digital Solutions

In December 2019, new digital monitoring rules came into place for Aotearoa New Zealand’s commercial fishing fleet.

This meant that the movements of around 860 vessels were being digitally monitored by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).  Skippers were expected to report their catch every day electronically, a big change from their previous paper-based catch reporting system, which at times was up to six weeks behind. 

The new rules meant that MPI needed to modernise its existing capability to track commercial fishing and use this information to inform decision-making.

Our services

HG Digital supported MPI through what has been acknowledged as the most significant change in fisheries in decades. By working closely with MPI, we built the spatial technology application enabling the use of digital monitoring to manage fisheries and we continue to work closely with MPI to continually improve the application.

Developed by HG in 2018, the new application has enabled better visualisation and understanding of which fish are being legally returned to the sea, including fish below minimum size. And, by providing real time information and evidence about the commercial catch, MPI can make better decisions around setting catch limits.

The new application also means that every 10 minutes, a vessel's location is beamed back to MPI's base.  The bespoke application integrates with MPI’s existing position and catch data, this means MPI is alerted in real time, if fishing is happening in protected areas, such as a marine reserve.

A key feature of the application is an alerting system, allowing compliance officers to act immediately, if necessary. 

For example, if a vessel is in a protected area an alert pops up straight away notifying the compliance officers. Mobile-friendly, it allows compliance officers to use it in the field. Depending on the setting chosen by the officer, they’ll either receive an on-screen audible alert and/or an email alert. 

HG supported MPI through what has been acknowledged as the most significant change in fisheries in decades.

The outcome

This is the biggest change in fisheries in decades and was a huge undertaking for MPI.  The result is a game-changer for MPI, providing a near real-time picture of who is fishing where and when.

This helps in two important ways. Firstly, the technology provides MPI with rapid access to fishing related data for making decisions about how best to manage our fish stocks including setting catch limits.  The new application allows MPI to use and respond to fishing information more quickly, and to follow up on potential non-compliance which helps to limit offending, such as continued harvesting of fish from a closed area.  It’s also been used to support recent significant prosecutions for offending at the serious end of the scale, including fishing in marine reserves.   Since the requirements came into place, 10-times the number of offences have been picked up by MPI compared to 2018 when the technology was not widespread.

HG's digital team continues to work with MPI to add value. Our continuous improvement approach means we work closely with MPI to implement enhancements based on the regular feedback received from the application users.

HG is privileged to have worked with MPI on this important project. We’re grateful to be able to be part of making a difference to sustainable fishing and to protecting New Zealand’s marine environment.

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