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“Terrorist” Gangs Giant Election Red Herring

“Terrorist” Gangs Giant Election Red Herring

“The Union representing Fishery Officers says the electorate is being distracted by a giant red herring with political talk of gangs being defined as terrorist organisations,” said Martin Cooney, Organiser of the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE) today. “Gangs are plainly not terrorist organisations. However, a number of gang members are involved in organised criminal enterprises. The real issue is aiding compliance staff in getting them to comply with current laws.”

“One of the most likely persons to stumble across a gang member involved in organised illicit activity is a Fishery Officer scouting New Zealand’s 15,000 km of coast line for paua poachers or coming across higher level dealers on-selling paua in NZ and overseas.”

“When a fishery officer does come across a gang member in an unplanned situation it is an uneven contest,” said Martin Cooney. “These are not recreational paua collectors who got greedy. They are seasoned criminals working as a poaching ring and with backup and weapons available. Often they are involved in other criminal activities and have a high incentive to resist arrest.”

“If the politicians genuinely want to deal with gangs, they must rebalance this situation. They need to allow Fishery Officers to carry retractable batons and pepper spray to deal with such poachers in all areas of the coast and to extricate themselves safely from threatening situations.”

“Previous estimates of the number of organised paua poaching rings in NZ have put the number at 70 in a $50m a year black market industry,” said Martin Cooney. “Given that there are only about 100 front line Fishery Officers, employed by the Ministry of Fisheries, the odds are already against the Officers being able to protect themselves let alone our paua stocks.”


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