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More Fisheries officers part of Govt commitment

More Fisheries officers only part of Government commitment

A significant increase in the number of Fisheries compliance officers announced today is only part of the Government's commitment to fisheries law enforcement, says Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope.

The Ministry of Fisheries today announced a major reorganisation of its compliance unit, signalling an increase in compliance staff from the current 160 to 180, or almost 15%, over the coming year. They also announced the establishment of three highly mobile investigation teams to be based in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Mr Benson-Pope says the reorganisation should not only silence the knockers who were predicting staff cuts, but should be seen as part of the significant commitment the Government has placed on protecting our fisheries.

"These changes have been brought about with just one goal in mind – catching the crooks who take from our marine environment with absolutely no regard for the law," said Mr Benson-Pope. "We are going after these criminals; we're going after the boats and cars and other equipment they use to commit their crimes; and we're going after the people who buy illegally caught sea food from them."

Mr Benson-Pope says these changes, along with other recent budget initiatives, reflect a Government committed to protecting our fisheries for future generations. He pointed specifically to Project Protector, a $500 million investment in a new Multi Role vessel, two 85-metre offshore patrol vessels, and four 55-metre inshore patrol vessels which are expected to enter service in the next three years.

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"These ships will allow the Navy to patrol our EEZ more effectively, working in partnership with the Ministry of Fisheries in their task of protecting our fisheries and borders."

The Government has also approved a $352million upgrade of equipment on the P3 Orion fleet, which undertake significant fisheries surveillance functions: "This demonstrates a whole-of-government approach to the policing of our marine environment. The Orions are a vital component in the surveillance of New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone and surrounding waters."

Mr Benson-Pope also highlighted $4.3million the Government has set aside over the next four years for a nationwide radio communications network for fisheries compliance officers.

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