9 October 2006
New Zealand First is concerned at the ability of fisheries officers to defend themselves, and hopes that the Minister of Fisheries will consider all reasonable options in an effort to allow them to carry out their jobs effectively and safely.
“The lucrative poaching industry is using increasingly sophisticated methods to deplete New Zealand of this vital resource, and this needs to be taken seriously,” said Fisheries spokesperson Pita Paraone.
“Because it’s such a profitable industry, the stakes are high and the means are ruthless. I think the Minister has failed to recognise the kinds of situations that fisheries officers often find themselves in, or the people they have to deal with.
“To deny them the means to defend themselves and to protect our precious resource means that their safety is compromised, and our fisheries resource will inevitably become more depleted as more poachers get away with fleecing it.
“To expect fisheries officers to call the police when confronted with dangerous situations is somewhat naïve, given the often remote locations, the ability of the overstretched police to respond in time to apprehend the poachers, and the resourcefulness and street smarts of the poachers themselves.
“I hope that the Minister will listen carefully to union officials who have requested a meeting with him to discuss the situation, and that he will take a measured and considered approach to this issue,” said Mr Paraone.