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Customs urges public to keep an eye out

Customs urges public to keep an eye out

As New Zealanders head to the coasts for summer holidays, Customs Minister, Rick Barker, is reminding people to keep an eye out for anything that looks "suspicious".

Customs Coastwatch programme is designed to encourage individuals to report any possible illegal activity across our borders.

That could include:
· Any unusual activities in remote areas such as landings by people or vessels or large ships at anchor close to shore
· Unusual movements of small craft
· Unusual objects at sea or ashore
· Unusual aircraft movements
· Hidden airstrips
· Suspicious vehicle activity in remote locations

Customs National Air and Marine Manager John Secker said residents in such areas would know what looked suspicious.

"A lot of our Coastwatchers are local residents who know which yachts should and shouldn't be there. They are people concerned not only about illegal drugs but also our native flora and fauna."
But Customs could do with many more eyes and ears.

"Our coastline is more than 11,000kms long, with many inaccessible and inhospitable areas which could provide a perfect platform for illegal importing or exporting activity, so we really rely on our Coastwatchers to report any such sightings," Mr Secker said.

Coastwatch is also linked with other government agencies such as the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Department of Conservation, Ministry of Fisheries, and the Maritime Safety Authority.

The Customs Coastwatch number is 0800 654 279.

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