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More beaches closed

Phil Heatley National Party Fisheries Spokesman

12 January 2005

More beaches closed

Increasing numbers of beaches closed to shellfish collection are causing the loss of a great New Zealand family tradition, says National Party Fisheries spokesman, Phil Heatley.

Answers to written questions show that 12 stretches of New Zealand coastline are currently closed to shellfish collection.

Only four stretches of coastline were closed during the nineties. This increased to seven in 2002.

"Some of these include entire harbours. Clearly the Ministry of Fisheries is stretched when it comes to policing New Zealand's coastline."

Mr Heatley says the Minister's decision to slash the number of honorary fisheries officers from 217 in 2002 to only 147 volunteers patrolling New Zealand beaches today has effectively created opportunities for people to plunder the coastline.

"Increasing plundering of our shellfish and resulting beach closures are clear proof that the Ministry's compliance unit is poorly resourced and inefficient," says Mr Heatley.

The Ministry of Fisheries has initiated a further policy that honorary fisheries officers work in pairs for safety reasons.

"When you slash their numbers, then demand they work in pairs, you are effectively reducing the ground they can effectively police by more than 50%," says Mr Heatley.

ENDS

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