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Fisheries to increase compliance capability

Fisheries to increase compliance capability following major review

The number of fisheries compliance staff is to increase in the coming year as a result of a major review by the Ministry of Fisheries into how it delivers it's enforcement services.

The Ministry today announced the results of a review of its fisheries compliance services. The increase in staffing levels and the creation of new investigation hubs in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch are the major recommendations of the review after a comprehensive consultation process with staff.

"We will have a new focus and capacity for detecting serious offenders," said Deputy Chief Executive, Stan Crothers. "These changes are aimed at providing better value for the significant investment Government makes in fisheries law enforcement. Through effective fisheries law enforcement we help to ensure the sustainability of New Zealand's fisheries," he added.

Mr Crothers said speculation that staff numbers were to be slashed at the district office level had been completely unfounded, with staff numbers at each office either remaining at their current levels or in fact growing in the next 12 months. He said there will be a gradual reduction of two staff at both the Invercargill and Dunedin offices to be achieved by not filling future vacancies after an assessment showed there was a lower level of compliance risk in these areas compared with some other parts of the country.

"I can say categorically that no fishery surveillance officer, investigator or District Compliance Manager is losing their job," said Mr Crothers. "Over the next 12 months we expect to increase compliance staff numbers from the current 160 to around 180.

"With these extra staff we will start a process of building our information and intelligence management functions to better target the serious offenders - those who are really doing the most damage to the fishery. There will also be an enhanced nationally managed investigation function."

The most immediate changes will be at the senior management level where a National Compliance Manager and managers of five functional groups - surveillance services, investigation services, compliance information, prosecution, and business management, will be centrally located in Wellington.

These changes are designed to improve the performance of fisheries compliance services. Stronger management structures and better operational co-ordination will allow the Ministry to provide high quality compliance services across the whole country. District managers will be responsible for managing fishery surveillance officers and building stronger relationships with their communities.

Mr Crothers thanked all those staff who had contributed to a very effective consultation on changes to the Ministry's compliance business. More than eighty percent of staff made submissions on proposals, and these had a significant impact on the final decisions announced today.

The compliance business structure and functional group staffing will be progressively implemented with full implementation to be competed in the 2005/06 financial year.

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