Government must reinforce fishery officers

The Government must reinforce front line fisheries officers to manage New Zealand’s fishing stocks more closely following a controversial new report which claims the country’s catch has been underestimated for years, says Labour's Fisheries spokesperson Rino Tirikatene.

“The British Columbia University global report has been disputed by the fishing sector but it has highlighted the small number of fisheries managers in our biggest catch area, the South Island.

"The front line of fisheries management is increasingly stretched with significant under resourcing. In 2004, there were 140 full-time fishery officers, and despite increasing fishing activity since then, there are now only 101. Bulking up our fishing officers is essential and having more active engagement with the fishing sector will also increase compliance.

“A key recommendation of the report is that Government should spend more time talking to fishers not just quota owners and the officials in Wellington. If the Government was to start actively engaging with recreational, commercial and iwi fishers, many of these problems would not occur.

"The Government needs to make sure the voices of recreational, commercial and iwi fishers are heard in the current review of fisheries management,” says Rino Tirikatene.