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War on paua poachers begins at home

Phil Heatley National Party Fisheries Spokesman

2 June 2004

War on paua poachers begins at home

The comments by a New Zealand trade commissioner in China about paua poaching should set alarm bells ringing here at home, says National's Fisheries spokesman, Phil Heatley.

According to Commissioner Don MacLean, the black-market for illegally plundered paua in China is growing.

The amount of paua poached from New Zealand waters is now approaching 1000 tonnes.

"Alarmingly - that's almost equal to the legal catch limit of 1057 tonnes," says Mr Heatley.

"The war against paua poaching begins here at home, not in China.

"Clearly, the Labour Government is failing in its duty to protect the important fisheries resource from exploitation.

"In 2002 the Labour Government cut the number of honorary fisheries officers by almost half; from 294 to 145.

"The number of fulltime fisheries officers has not filled the void. In fact the number of professional officers has remained static over recent years.

"Fisheries officers need to have the power to take a firm hand with anyone who seeks to exploit our coast for illegal commercial gain. Taking back control of our own coast is the first step towards winning the war on poaching," says Mr Heatley.

ENDS


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