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Minister's Christmas message to fishers

Minister's Christmas message to fishers – be safe, be aware of the rules

Being safe on the water and knowing the rules are the two Christmas messages from Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope to fishers this summer.

Mr Benson-Pope says this time of year is traditionally one of the busiest periods of fishing activity and he hopes fishers will do everything they should to keep themselves, and anybody else aboard their vessels, safe.

"As New Zealanders we are incredibly lucky to have the oceans so close as a source of food and fun," said Mr Benson-Pope. "But as the weather this week has shown, things can change very quickly. I urge fishers to plan their excursions, take heed of weather forecasts, make sure their boats are in good working order, and onboard, that they are well prepared for any emergency."

Mr Benson-Pope also urged fishers to be aware of the rules around the fishing for each species, pointing out that the Ministry of Fisheries has made the information easily available.

The recent release of the Recreational Fishers Handbook, which is on sale at petrol stations, speciality tackle stores and some book outlets, was a further effort in providing recreational fishers with information on the fishing rules that affect them, he says.

In addition to the booklet, the Ministry of Fisheries has a range of free brochures which can be obtained by contacting local MFish offices, ringing the 0800 4 RULES (0800 478 537) number, or by checking out the MFish website on www.fish.govt.nz.

"These rules are designed to ensure the sustainability of our marine environment for generations to come," said Mr Benson-Pope. "The vast majority of recreational fishers act responsibly and follow the rules.

"Ultimately the onus rests with the fisher. Fishers found in breach of the rules face a range of penalties from infringement notices to court action and possible forfeiture of vessels and other equipment."

Mr Benson-Pope says Ministry of Fisheries compliance staff would be out in force this summer and could also be approached by fishers unsure of the rules.

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