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Govt must better protect fisheries officers

Govt must better protect fisheries officers

At-risk fisheries officers were promised batons and pepper spray 18 months ago, but the Government hasn’t delivered, says National’s Fisheries spokesman Phil Heatley.

Mr Heatley was commenting on today’s report that the fisheries officers’ union, NUPE, plans to distribute batons to fisheries staff to protect them from attack by poachers.

“The Government’s dragged the chain on this serious issue. 18 months ago, the Ministry of Fisheries called for officers to carry batons and pepper spray,” says Mr Heatley.

“We can’t expect fisheries officers to protect our fisheries from thieves without adequate resources.

“And Labour’s new foreshore and seabed legislation isn’t helping either,” says Mr Heatley.

“It’s creating uncertainty over fishing resources and fuelling tension amongst some fishers and fisheries staff.

“There are more and more reports of fisheries officers being verbally and physically abused by poachers.

“And all the Government has done is tell officers to run away or patrol in pairs.

“Running away certainly won’t stop poachers and, by working in pairs, already scarce patrols will be stretched further,” says Mr Heatley.

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