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Fishery Officer Disappointment Over Amendment Bill

Saturday 27 September 2008

Fishery Officer Disappointment Over Amendment Bill

“The Union representing Fishery Officers is disappointed that Parliament did not pick up a proposed amendment to the Fisheries Act Amendment Bill (No 2) when the Bill was passed under urgency in the last week,” said Martin Cooney, Organiser of the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE) today.

“The amendment proposed by the Union would have allowed Fishery Officers to carry retractable batons and pepper spray to extricate themselves from dangerous situations.”

“Poaching is so bad in New Zealand that half of all paua taken are taken illegally, said Martin Cooney. “Other high value species like crayfish, are also subject to high levels of black market activity, in part because Fishery Officers are unable to access certain parts of our 15,000 km of coastline due to health and safety concerns.”

“Fishery Officers have been seeking to fill in this gap in their defensive toolkit since the early part of this decade”, said Martin Cooney. “Over the last two years the Minister of Fisheries has added more components including stab resistant armour. Given that every person fishing has a knife as part of their equipment, this move is plainly welcome.”

“However it is also must be clear that if poachers in a P induced frenzy are intent on stabbing an officer and discover this is not effective due to the officer wearing chest armour, they will soon work out where to stab to incapacitate the officer,” said Martin Cooney. “Retractable batons and pepper spray give the officer the tools to incapacitate a poacher who attacks them.”

“The retractable baton is unobtrusive and easy to carry when not being used, but very effective in keeping an offender at bay while the spray takes effect or help arrives,” said Martin Cooney.

“Now that the House has risen for the election the debate will have to be continued during the election campaign,” said Martin Cooney. “Voters have seen the Fishery Officers in action on Coastwatch over the years. Our Union believes there is huge support for Fishery Officers being provided with this equipment. We will be running a campaign to try to get political support for the needed change to the law by whoever is the new Government. ”


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