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Fishery Officers Directed To Avoid Potaka Marae

Fishery Officers Directed To Avoid Potaka Marae

“NUPE has instructed Fishery Officers to avoid any enforcement work relating to Potaka Marae until they have an appropriate defensive capability,” said Martin Cooney, organiser with the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE) today. He was commenting on the construction and operation of an illegal aquaculture center at Potaka Marae on East Cape and the proposed construction of a further four such centres.

“It is clear that the projects breach the Fisheries Act as the Project does not have a Freshwater Fish Farm Licence,” said Martin Cooney. “The local Maori community is quite open that they are challenging the Government over its interpretation of who owns the seabed and foreshore. They have issued a trespass notice to the Ministry of Fisheries.””

“Our Union is concerned that the Government under pressure from the Opposition over two standards of enforcement may respond with a proposal that places Fisheries Officer at risk, “said Martin Cooney. “If Fishery Officers are sent in as part of a police team, the local community has made it plain they will resist such an operation. While Gisborne Fishery Officers have been issued with stab proof vests, we believe their safety would be at risk unacceptably.”

Martin Cooney said that the Union’s Executive had been asking for six months for Fishery Officers in the area to be given proper defensive capability given the death threats and other violence they faced in doing their job. The Ministry must provide retractable batons to the Officers before it places them in situations where there is a clear and present danger.”

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