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Research Results

Kiwis: Ban high seas bottom trawling, put cameras on all vessels

19 Feb 24

Kiwis: Ban high seas bottom trawling, put cameras on all vessels

Overall, there is strong support to prioritise the ban on bottom trawling in South Pacific International waters: 73% (2,947,000 adults) say it should be banned.

Only 7% (272,000 adults) believe commercial bottom trawling should be allowed to continue, a Horizon Research survey finds.

The February 2-8 survey of 1,083 adults, was conducted shortly after the Minister of Oceans and Fisheries withdrew New Zealand support for a ban in order to review its impact on the fishing industry and benefits it deivers to the country.

Respondents were told:

After previously signing up to international commitments to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems, home to deep sea coral and sponges, the New Zealand government has this year lobbied for bottom trawling to continue in these sensitive areas.

Some warn that bottom trawling is known to destroy deep sea coral ecosystems, with New Zealand being the only country still using this method in the South Pacific.

Respondents were then asked if the government should prioritise allowing bottom trawling or banning it.

Results were strongly for a ban:

The people significantly more likely to want a ban on bottom trawling are:

  • 55+ year olds (85%)
  • Other European ethnicity (85%)
  • Living in Bay of Plenty (88%)
  • Have personal income less than $50,000 (79%).

39% of people aged under 35 years are not sure.


Green and Labour Party voters are most likely to want a ban on bottom trawling.

11% of National Party voters believe that commercial bottom trawling should continue.

However, among the governing parties’ voters there is strong support for a ban: 71% of ACT, 73% of National and 75% of New Zealand First voters.

Should cameras be on all commercial fishing vessels?

There is strong support for commercial fishing vessels operating in New Zealand to be monitored. 80% (3,251,000 adults) say cameras should be on all commercial vessels operating in New Zealand waters to monitor activities.

Respondents were given the following information.

Since the new government was formed in New Zealand in 2023, the Minister of Oceans and Fisheries, Shane Jones, has announced a review of the previously agreed programme to put cameras on boats to monitor fish catches.

Some argue the cameras help to make sure commercial fishers stay within the law and protect fish stocks and endangered species.

The industry argues expanding the cameras programme is unaffordable and impracticable.

People aged 55+ years (87%) are significantly more likely to support cameras on vessels

Camera support by party voted for:

Among voters there is strong support for cameras on vessels. Among voters for the governing coalition, 80% of National, 78% of New Zealand First and 77% of ACT voters support cameras.

Green and Labour Party voters are more likely to support cameras on fishing vessels operating in New Zealand waters.

The survey was commissioned by Greenpeace.

Its oceans campaigner, Ellie Hooper, says in a February 16, 2024, statement:  "... data confirms what we already know – that the vast majority of New Zealanders want increased ocean protection, transparency around what the commercial fishing industry gets up to at sea, and a ban on destructive bottom trawling in the South Pacific. Even those who voted for New Zealand First in the last election want better than what Shane Jones is threatening/offering.”

The data shows that 73% of those polled want bottom trawling banned in the South Pacific, despite Jones signing off on New Zealand’s position to block any further protections for vulnerable habitats in the area this month.

Hooper says Jones seems adamant to do the opposite of what New Zealanders – including New Zealand First voters – want.

“Look, the poll shows that 80% of New Zealanders want cameras on all commercial fishing vessels, yet Jones has already asked for a review of the cameras on boats programme, which, surprise, surprise, one of his major donors – the CEO of fishing company Westfleet – has called for.” 

This week, Jones reiterated to the media that he sees his role as being an advocate for the commercial fishing industry, as he dined out with industry heads.

“Jones has wasted no time getting to the fishing industry’s bidding,” says Hooper.

“The commercial fishing industry may be funding his political campaigns, but he’ll be losing voters who want to see more protection for the ocean.

“New Zealanders care about protecting marine wildlife from corals to dolphins, whales and seabirds like the Toroa. To protect the ocean and all the life it supports, we need leaders who put ocean health first, ban the most destructive fishing practices from where they do the most harm, and commit to keeping the industry accountable, not ones who pander to industry interests.” 

Newsroom on February 19 has coverage of the survey and Mr Jones' policy thinking on bottom trawling and international waters protection.

Full polling can be accessed here.