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Fisheries Ministry To Cut Front Line Officers

Saturday 11 September 2004

Fisheries Ministry To Cut Front Line Officers

“The Ministry of Fisheries has responded to the threats to front line Fishery Officers from increasing black market poaching and threats of violence with a proposal to cut the number of Fishery Officers in the regions,” said Martin Cooney, organiser with the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE) today.

“From October 2004 the Ministry intends to reduce front line enforcement across many of the outlying areas of the country. In the North Island, Fishery Officers will be removed from Whangarei (2), Tauranga (3), Gisborne (1), Napier (2), New Plymouth (1). Most Offices will also lose a front line Investigator. This represents about a third of the personnel in these sites. In the South Island, Invercargill also loses a Fishery Officer and frontline Investigator and Christchurch and Dunedin lose frontline Investigators.”

“The regional staff cuts are supposedly to be used to create ‘Central Investigation Hubs’ in Auckland, Wellington and Nelson. However, Officers believe this will do little to protect the resources on a local basis and is merely rearranging the deckchairs on a sinking ship. Investigators need to be on the ground in the regions to detect the poachers - not based 500 kilometers away.”

“The ability of ‘blue shirt’ Fishery Officers to patrol the beaches and protect the fisheries resource will obviously be greatly reduced by this move. There is a need for doubling the number of front line Fishery Officers, not reducing them in this way. They also need to be urgently provided with defensive equipment.”

“The Minister of Fisheries needs to equip Officers with OC spray and ASP batons and put this proposal on hold,” said Martin Cooney.


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