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State sanctioned plunder of fisheries

State sanctioned plunder of fisheries

National Party Fisheries spokesman Phil Heatley is condemning the Government for its failure to police customary fishing regulations.

He's commenting in the wake of threats against Fisheries Officers by some members of the Potaka Marae on the East Cape, where an illegal marine farm has been established.

"This must not be allowed to continue. The new Fisheries Minister must show some leadership. He must act in the national interest and protect our fisheries resource.

"It's hard not to come to the conclusion that Labour's passively accepting double standards when it comes to the policing of fisheries regulations," he says.

Earlier this week Mr Heatley released answers to parliamentary questions which showed that 1369 infringement notices were handed out to recreational fishers in the 2002/03 fishing year, 807 were handed out to commercial interests and none to customary fishers.

In the previous year only two notices were issued to customary fishers.

"When thousands of customary permits are issued every year, it's simply astounding the Fisheries Ministry has ignored this issue for so long.

"On the face of it, the Ministry appears to be paying no attention to customary fishers who break the law," says Mr Heatley.

"We also know from Parliamentary questions that the Ministry is not keeping adequate records. That's particularly concerning when the Government's considering a plan that would provide for a whole new set of customary rights.

"It should not matter who is responsible for plundering our fish stocks, they should be treated equally before the law.

"It's this kind of politically correct nonsense that fuels the resentment and suspicion among non-Maori," says Mr Heatley.

So far this year 580 recreational, 264 commercial and five customary infringement notices have been issued.

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