In the last year around 9,000 observer days were recorded, paid for by the industry.
However, coverage in the inshore fishery, encompassing the smaller coastal vessels, can be problematic, according to Fisheries Inshore New Zealand chief executive Dr Jeremy Helson.
“The deepwater fishery generally has observers as a matter of course,” he said.
“For instance, in the squid fishery in the Southern Ocean coverage is near 100 percent.
“Coverage in the inshore fishery is much less but there are good reasons for that.”
Dr Helson said the majority of cases highlighted in the Ministry for Primary Industries observer data related to “maritime manning limits”.
“These are legal requirements around maritime safety which mean there is simply not enough room on board a small inshore vessel, that might have a crew of only one or two, for another body.
“However, in one case listed, the vessel owner had modified the boat to allow for another person aboard.”
He said we need the information that observers collect as it’s important for fisheries management.
“This includes measuring individual fish, removing otoliths (ear bones) to determine age class and so on. Technology can’t replace observers for these tasks.
“Our skippers do co-operate in the vast majority of cases and relationships with the 100 or so observers are good.
“We don’t condone refusal to carry an observer where there are no valid reasons.”