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Labour Day Launch: Fishery Officer Campaign

Monday 27 October 2008

Labour Day Launch: Fishery Officer Election Campaign

“The Union representing Fishery Officers is using Labour Day (unofficial start of the fishing season) to call for a debate on a key environmental issue for the election campaign,” said Martin Cooney, NUPE Organiser today.

“Imagine if half the lambs in the country were being poached to a lucrative black market by organised criminals with gang connections. The prevention of poaching would be high on the list of questions for radio and TV election debates and in newspaper polls.”

“Yet that is exactly the situation with paua where perhaps $50m a year is stolen,” said Martin Cooney. “National’s election policy states that ‘The Ministry estimates that half the paua catch and almost 20% of the crayfish catch remains illegal’.”

“Politicians state that there are ‘no go’ areas for fishery officers. This is because their current equipment has gaps meaning it is not safe enough for them to go,” said Martin Cooney. “Much of the black market paua and rock lobster poached from such areas in the Wellington/Wairarapa and the Gisborne area is taken to Auckland or overseas”

“If the politicians genuinely want to deal with gangs, they must rebalance this situation,” said Martin Cooney. “Currently our Union believes there is too much emphasis on the rights of the poachers and unnecessary concern about the use of batons and pepper spray against them.”

“Politicians 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.”

“Our Union has prepared a postcard (attached) to highlight the issue. The postcard is being distributed in key electorates,” said Martin Cooney. “It asks members of the community to support by writing to the fishery spokesperson of their chosen party.”


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