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Govt leaves fish stocks wide open for abuse

29 September 2004

Phil Heatley - National Fisheries Spokesman

Govt leaves fish stocks wide open for abuse

The proposed cuts to frontline fisheries officers threaten to expose a hugely important New Zealand industry to even greater pillaging, says National's Fisheries spokesman, Phil Heatley.

A proposal to cut officer numbers by 40% comes hard on the heels of answers to parliamentary questions that show the number of Honorary Fisheries Officers has been cut by more than a third during the past eighteen months.

"Poachers are the only people who will benefit from these cuts," says Mr Heatley.

"Already 50% of our päua harvest and 20% of the crayfish harvest is poached for the black market.

"These are not new issues. The Minister and his Government have been promising to get tough on poaching, but from these proposals we can see that was yet another in a long line of hollow promises.

"We need as many eyes and ears working to protect our valuable fishery as possible. "The Minister justifies the cuts by saying the police can deal with it. Undoubtedly he's referring to the same police that are already stretched doing their core jobs and guarding prisoners who should be in jail. How many more duties does Labour plan to pile on police?

"New Zealand's fishing industry is too important to be left to chance," says Mr Heatley.

ENDS


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