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$10,000 Fines Window Dressing For Poaching

$10,000 Fines Window Dressing For Customary Poaching

“Increasing fines for customary fishing offences to $10,000 will do little to stop poaching unless more fishery officers are appointed and they are able to carry defensive equipment,” Martin Cooney, organiser with the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE), said today.

He was commenting on today’s Government announcement that new offences would increase fines under Regulation 27 - this after a 15 month investigation to assess and combat customary fishing poachers.

“The fact is that more frontline Fishery Officer staff with appropriate defensive equipment are the only real way to combat customary and other fishing abuse. An enforcement agency is only as good as its ability to detect offences. When patrols are reduced as they have been in ‘no go’ areas like the East Coast north of Gisborne, increasing deterrent fines is just window dressing.”

“Nationwide, there are only about 100 front line Fisheries Officers policing the commercial, customary, amateur and poaching/black-market sectors. Fisheries law currently depends on high deterrence value with low numbers of Officers. But the recent events in Gisborne with agents of the ‘Maori Government of Aotearoa’ demonstrates why such an enforcement regime does not work,” said Martin Cooney. “These poachers do not accept they are doing anything wrong.”

“Frontline Fishery Officers must be defensively equipped with pepper spray and retractable batons in the face of organised crime and those who do not accept the law of the land,” said Martin Cooney. “The Minister of Fisheries needs to deal with the real issues on his visit to the East Coast region tomorrow.”

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