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Black-market will gain from officer shortage

Black-market will gain from officer shortage

National Party Fisheries spokesman Phil Heatley says the Minister can’t continue to turn a blind eye to a dangerous drop in the number of paid and honorary fisheries officers in the North Island.

Answers to written Parliamentary questions show the number of paid fishery officers in the North Island decreased from 106 in 2004 to 89 by the end of 2005.

The number of honorary fisheries officers dropped from 166 in 2003 to 141 in 2004. By December 2005 that number had slipped further to 125.

“If they keep losing officers at this rate there’ll be no one left to police our inshore fisheries resources. With a black-market that’s said to be thriving, it’s hard to understand why the Minister has allowed this trend to continue.

“The Ministry is reducing the number of eyes and ears on the ground and opening up further opportunities for people to plunder our coastline.

“Both paid and honorary fisheries officers are often employed to police isolated areas of coast.

“When they’re being stretched as thin as they are now, the geographical area that can be effectively policed is significantly reduced. This is a recipe for trouble,” says Mr Heatley.

Ends

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