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Worrying ethnic trends in coastal plunder

Phil Heatley MP National Party Fisheries Spokesman

10 March 2006

Worrying ethnic trends in coastal plunder

National Party Fisheries spokesman Phil Heatley says official figures on the ethnic make-up of those found guilty of fisheries breaches appear to show a worrying trend.

"These figures seem to confirm what many suspected."

He is commenting on answers to written Parliamentary questions which show that in cases where the ethnicity of offenders is collected, Asians, Maori and Pacific Islanders are the ethnic groups most often prosecuted for fisheries offences.

"While the Asian community makes up 7% of the population, they are guilty of 15% of the fisheries prosecutions. Maori, who make up around 15% of the population, are behind 30% of fisheries prosecutions, while Pacific Islanders are the culprits in 11% of cases, while making up 7% of the population.

"Clearly, the rate of offending in these minority groups is far higher than it should be on a per capita basis.

"As Minister, Jim Anderton should be urgently looking for solutions. Our in-shore fish stocks need to be protected for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

"The simplest solution would be to restore the number of fisheries officers that have been cut back under Labour. A fisheries presence on the coast is the best deterrent.

"Adequate numbers of properly resourced fisheries staff and volunteers are needed to spread the word in ethnic communities, warning them of the consequences of illegal fishing or shellfish gathering.

"But the warnings won't work unless there are fisheries officers on the ground to back them up. Unless the Labour Government starts taking the plunder of our coastal fisheries more seriously, it'll be future generations who pay the price for Mr Anderton's inaction," says Mr Heatley.


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