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Call For Reappointment Of Sacked Fisheries Officer

14 June 2002

Greens Call For Reappointment Of Sacked Fisheries Officer

Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said the sacking of a voluntary fisheries officer for speaking out against the over-fishing of Raglan Harbour should be reversed and the officer reinstated immediately.

After 12 years of voluntary work as a fisheries officer in Raglan the Ministry of Fisheries have fired Fred Lichtwark for speaking out against the over-fishing of the Raglan Harbour, saying his involvement with the Whaingaroa Harbour Care group was a conflict of interest with his fishery duties.

"Fred is due to receive a green ribbon environmental award from the Ministry for the Environment for his outstanding work in improving the water quality and for his conservation work protecting the local fishery through his involvement with the Whaingaroa Harbour Care group.

"His sacking shows that the Ministry of Fisheries is more interested in preserving the interests of major fishing companies than the preservation of fishing stocks and the sustainability of local fishing communities," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"I am writing to the Minister of Fisheries Pete Hodgson to ask him to review this decision by his officials."

Ms Fitzsimons said it was appalling that Mr Lichtwark had been told his conservation and environmental work with the Harbour Care group made him unable to work as a fisheries officer.

"I find it really disturbing that the Ministry of Fisheries sees a passion for sustainable management of fisheries and the sustainability of small, local fishing communities as contrary to the goals of a fisheries officer.

"On the contrary, the qualities and the commitment that Fred has brought to his post as a fisheries officer are exactly the qualities the Ministry should be fostering and encouraging," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"If somebody with Fred's experience says a local fishery is being unsustainably managed to the detriment of a local community then the Ministry would be wise to listen rather than moving to silence him.

"Local fisheries officers do a very important job stopping poaching and enforcing fishing regulations. Fred is effective because he has the support of his community."

Ends

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