Cabinet Minister and NZ First MP Shane Jones says any claim that he or the party have put a stop to mandatory cameras on fishing boats is a "bare-faced" lie.
His comments follow a leaked recording of a 2018 phone call , obtained by Newshub, where Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash said Jones and NZ First leader Winston Peters were the roadblocks to the policy.
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Russel Norman, executive director at Greenpeace, said the recording was the "smoking gun" that connected NZ corporate fishing companies to Government fishing policy, via NZ First.
The previous government agreed to put cameras on boats following an inquiry that found significant problems of illegal fish dumping.
Cameras on boats were identified as essential to monitor dumping and the illegal non-notification of the deaths of dolphins and other animals caught in fishing operations.
Nash said that his 2018 comments in the phone recording were wrong, and at the time he was a new minister coming to grips with a complex portfolio.
"The Coalition Government agreed to Stage 1 of cameras rollout in 2019 for 20 commercial fishing vessels off the West Coast of the North Island. That would not have been possible without NZ First."
This morning Jones said the Covid-crisis, pace of the bureaucracy and the complexity of the policy - including privacy issues and who should cover the costs - were all factors for why the policy roll-out had been slow.
"But any suggestion that I personally have sung my fish scale taiaha around and caused it not to come to pass is a bare-faced lie.
"I have no specific authority or even power to stop any policy."
Jones, a former chair of Te Ohu Kaimoana (the Māori Fisheries Commission), would not comment on his role in any Cabinet discussions, but said his views on the fishing industry were well known.
"Any fair-minded New Zealander knows that when you introduce regulations to any primary produce sector, there's always a balance.
"I represent a force that ensures that the interests of industry and jobs and growth is always brought to the fore, as is the concern about sustainability, transparency and conservation values."
Jones has been open about receiving donations from those in the fishing industry, including Talley's, which donated $10,000 in 2017 to Jones.
Talley's also gave $26,950 to the New Zealand First Foundation since 2017, according to
But Jones was dismissive of questions over whether he was being unduly influenced.
"It's a grubby and quite frankly a tawdry attempt to try and taint a figure who's come from Māori Fisheries who will never ever resile from the fact that I'm an industry apostle.
"If some people want to dedicate money to my campaign and I openly disclose it, I think that's how democracy should work."