Digital monitoring of commercial fishing

Read about this new technology, what’s involved, how it will help, and what permit holders and operators need to know.


Consultation on regulation amendments closed

We consulted from 9 May to 8 June on proposed amendments to regulations to support digital monitoring and innovative trawl technologies. These technical amendments are intended to be practical and workable for the fishing industry.

10 May 2018 – Consultation and digital monitoring update

As announced by Minister of Fisheries Stuart Nash, we're now Fisheries New Zealand, an MPI unit dedicated to the fishing sector.

27 March 2018 – Deferral of digital monitoring implementation

Roll out of digital monitoring of commercial fishing has been deferred. Electronic reporting and geospatial position reporting regulations, other than for trawl vessels over 28 metres, probably won't take effect until after 1 October 2018.

What's digital monitoring

Fisheries New Zealand is rolling out a new digital system for tracking, monitoring and reporting of commercial fishing.

The digital monitoring system is made up of:

  • electronic catch reporting via an e-log book – so we can quickly and accurately measure commercial catch effort
  • electronic position reporting – so we can verify (when used with electronic catch reporting) where and when fishing happened
  • on-board cameras – so we can verify what is being reported. (Note: the Minister of Fisheries is considering options for implementation and at this stage no decisions have been made)

The first 2 elements of the new system, electronic catch and position reporting, were rolled out for trawl vessels over 28m from October 2017. Digital monitoring for all other commercial fishers has been deferred until at least 30 September 2018 – you must continue to report as you currently do until further notice.

Why use digital monitoring?

The Digital Monitoring project, previously known as Integrated Electronic Monitoring and Reporting System (IEMRS), will support sustainable fisheries.

A digital system for tracking, reporting, and monitoring commercial fishing activity will give us more accurate and up-to-date information. This will lead to better decision-making by government and the fishing industry.

The aim is to:

  • maximise the recreational, cultural, commercial and environmental value of New Zealand's fisheries
  • give New Zealanders, and consumers from around the world, confidence that fish from our waters are being managed and caught sustainably
  • allow Fisheries New Zealand to verify information being reported and encourage compliance.

Some fisheries around the world are already using digital technology to report catch, effort, and position data.

What's next?

  • We are continuing to work with technology providers to develop the products fishers will need for electronic catch and position reporting, following the release of the final circulars setting out the specific requirements for them.
  • We are planning to hold a series of meetings with fishers at ports around the country later this year to talk about electronic catch and position reporting. We'll let you know when we have times and locations.
  • The Minister of Fisheries is considering options for the implementation of on-board cameras and no decisions have been made yet.

Find out more

Information for commercial fishers

Monthly harvest reports

Monthly harvest returns and monthly harvest return amendments can be submitted electronically. Continue to submit your monthly reports as you have been doing, either electronically or on paper. Use the relevant species codes for reporting.

Codes for QMS and non-QMS species

Use these codes for reporting fishing activity for Quota Management System (QMS) species and species that aren't managed under the QMS.


The regulations to enable digital monitoring and innovative trawl technology were gazetted on 13 July 2017, and are available here:


Temporary exemptions from the digital monitoring regulations remain in place for all commercial fishers (other than over 28m trawlers) until at least 30 September 2018. This means you must continue to report as usual using paper forms.

A limited exemption is in place for all fishers, using vessels 28m or less, who are fishing for deepwater clams or for pāua or kina in the waters around the Chatham Islands with underwater breathing apparatus.

A limited exemption from some reporting timeframes is also in place for over 28m trawl vessels.


The revised circulars for electronic catch and position reporting were issued on 10 May 2018, following consultation. These circulars detail the technical requirements for electronic devices and how you should report, as set out in the regulations.

For over 28m trawl vessel permit holders and operators

The circulars will come into force on 1 July 2018, with a 3-month transition period until 30 September 2018. Most changes are minor and technical in nature, but all permit holders fishing on over 28m trawl vessels, already using e-logbooks, should work with their e-logbook providers to ensure updates occur before 30 September 2018.

For all other commercial fishers

A temporary exemption remains in place for all other commercial fishers so the electronic catch and position reporting circulars do not apply until at least 30 September 2018. This means you must continue to report as usual using paper forms.

Circulars taking effect 1 July 2018

Circulars in place through transition period to 30 September 2018


Electronic catch and position reporting took effect on 1 October 2017 for over 28m trawl vessels. A user guide is available (in English, Korean and Russian) to help you meet the new requirements.

Advisory groups

There are 2 advisory groups helping us develop the new reporting systems, the:

  • Implementation Advisory Group – to make sure the system is implemented properly
  • Technical Working Group – to make sure we get the standards and specifications for the systems right.

Click on the relevant group to access meeting minutes and other relevant documents.

Who to contact

If you have any questions about the information on this page, email

Last reviewed:
Has this been useful? Give us your feedback