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$2.9m Not Enough To Fight Fisheries Crime

$2.9m Not Enough To Fight Organised Fisheries Crime

“NUPE sees the budget announcement of $2.9m as a small step in the right direction in fighting what the Government now accepts is organised crime gangs who are pillaging NZ fisheries,” Martin Cooney, organiser with the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE) said today.

He was commenting on today’s Government announcement that $11m over 4 years ($2.9m pa) will be spent on 18 extra staff and five vehicles to combat paua and lobster poachers. “The fact is that frontline Fishery Officer staff with appropriate defensive equipment are an essential part of any strategy to combat organised crime and frontline numbers are deliberately not being increased.”

“Last September the Government was proposing to cut large numbers of frontline Fishery Officers. Those cuts were supposed to fund this special tactics team. Only pressure from local communities defeated that proposal. At least now the extra resources are being put in separately,” said Martin Cooney.

“There are less than 100 Fisheries Officers policing the four sectors – commercial, customary, amateur and poaching/black-market. There should be twice as many frontline Fishery Officers and they should be defensively equipped with pepper spray and retractable batons in the face of organised crime,” said Martin Cooney. “The information and initial contact for the Special Tactics team to use has to come from frontline staff.”

“While the Special Tactics team can be a positive move, NUPE is calling for the Government to double the number of front line Fishery Officers and to give them the equipment to do their jobs to ensure the success of the new strategy,” said Martin Cooney.

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