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Ministry cleared on scampi but concerns remain

26 May 2004

Phil Heatley - National Fisheries Spokesman

Ministry cleared on scampi but concerns remain

Though the State Services Commission has cleared the Ministry of Fisheries of any criminal wrongdoing regarding the management of the scampi fishery, it is stretching things to say that there are 'no significant concerns' within the Ministry, says Phil Heatley, National's Fisheries spokesman.

He is commenting on reports from the Ministry of Fisheries that the SSC findings vindicate the Ministry and affirm the effectiveness of its management and staff.

Mr Heatley says he is pleased the SSC report found allegations of corruption against the Ministry to be unfounded, but the report also highlighted past inconsistency and poor administration of scampi resources.

"The Ministry has an enormous responsibility for regulating and protecting New Zealand's fourth largest industry and one of our most popular leisure activities.

"Yet recently, the Ministry has come under criticism on a wide range of areas that need to be addressed.

"The promised aquaculture reforms have dragged on for far too long, the over fishing of hoki and snapper needs addressing, the Ministry's legal costs have spiralled out of control, and it is an utter disgrace that significant crayfish stocks and half the national paua harvest is poached.

"The Ministry cannot afford another scandal. It needs to take on board the lessons from the scampi inquiry and implement the SSC's recommendations," says Mr Heatley.

ENDS

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