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Ministry mad to suggest higher shellfish takes

Jo Goodhew MP
Phil Heatley

National Party Fisheries Spokesman

25 October 2006

Ministry mad to suggest higher shellfish takes

National Party Fisheries spokesman Phil Heatley says it is madness to advocate increasing shellfish harvesting takes in greater Auckland just because the Ministry of Fisheries is failing to police current rules properly.

He is reacting to a ministry official who was reported in the NZ Herald today suggesting limits on shellfish harvesting on beaches in greater Auckland be increased since so many people are ignoring them.

“How does that help the shellfish stocks and why doesn’t the ministry just police the current rules, or are fisheries officers so few in number that proper enforcement is impossible?

“The number of officers, both professional and honorary, have been steadily cut in recent years.

“Paid fishery officer numbers were slashed from 106 in 2004 to only 89 at the end of 2005. The number of honorary officers in the North Island fell from 141 to 125.

“Meanwhile, the number of bans on harvesting of shellfish have continued to grow. Harvesting bans were declared on four beaches in 1999, seven in 2002, and 11 in 2005.

“What the ministry is doing by its bans is locking families out of what was once a great New Zealand tradition – collecting shellfish.

“Now, it has swung to the other end of the spectrum by advocating open slather on greater Auckland beaches.

“But nobody wants to see virtual unchecked plundering. The rules, as they stand, should be enforced properly.”

ENDS

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