Fishery Officer Seek Protection
Sunday 2 November 2008
Attention: Political/Industrial/Environment Reporters
Fishery Officer Seek Protection Like Dog Control Officers
“While dog control officers rightly carry batons and sometimes pepper spray to protect themselves from menacing or dangerous dogs, fishery officers in the same situation are told to look around for something to protect themselves like a garden gnome,” said Martin Cooney, NUPE Organiser today. NUPE represents most of the front line fishery officers across New Zealand.
“Fishery Officers regularly come across menacing dogs when doing routine patrols and when visiting houses to follow up on poachers and others who have been arrested for offences,” said Martin Cooney. “Organised criminal groups with links to gangs store and transport paua and other high value species and use dogs for surveillance and protection.”
“Dog control Officers say ‘For every ten bad dogs there are nine bad owners.’ Fishery Officers in dealing with these very owners and their dogs are not permitted to carry batons and pepper spray to protect themselves,” said Martin Cooney.
“Fishery Officers are instead trained to pick up a garden gnome, a hose reel or a clip board to either fend off the dog or put it into the dog’s mouth before retreating to their vehicle. This is a patently ridiculous situation.”
“For the problem of tactical withdrawal from a dangerous situation, batons and pepper spray used properly by trained officers are the obvious answer,” said Martin Cooney. “The further problem for Fishery Officers is that there is a concern about the batons and pepper spray also being used on people.”
“If politicians genuinely want to deal with poaching and safety for their employees, they must rebalance this situation,” said Martin Cooney. “Currently our Union believes there is too much emphasis on the rights of the poachers (and their dogs) and unnecessary concern about the use of batons and pepper spray against them.”