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Joint effort on organised crime in the Pacific

New Zealand Police are to work more closely with their counterparts from Australia, Tonga and Fiji in a multinational effort to tackle organised crime.

Police Minister Stuart Nash says an agreement signed today in Sydney by the New Zealand Commissioner of Police Mike Bush will formalise the already strong relationship between Police forces across the Pacific.

“The new Memorandum of Understanding demonstrates the commitment of New Zealand Police to tackling the scourge of organised crime. The MoU establishes a new Transnational, Serious and Organised Crime Pacific Taskforce,” Mr Nash says.

“The Taskforce will make it easier for Police from the four nations to jointly investigate and disrupt criminal groups like gangs, to target criminals using small craft to transport illicit drugs, and to share operational intelligence.

“Drug trafficking, cybercrime and child exploitation occurs across borders. These crimes cause harm to our communities. We need to deter these offences and bring organised criminal groups to justice. 

“The Pacific Taskforce sends a very clear message to New Zealand-based offenders, criminal gangs and transnational networks – you will be pursued in this country and across the Pacific region.

“A commitment to go hard on organised crime was a key part of the Coalition Agreement with New Zealand First.  Extra Police are being deployed for crime prevention and ensuring safety of our homes, neighbourhoods and businesses. This is central to our efforts to enhance the wellbeing of families and communities.

“We will continue to engage closely with our Pacific counterparts to develop their capability to combat transnational crime. This not only improves our national security, but also security of the region,” Mr Nash says.

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Next phase in fisheries management reform

The next phase of reform of the fisheries management system has been launched with a call for public input into new rules for the commercial industry.

Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash has released a discussion document on proposed changes designed to improve commercial fishing practices.

“I have been told by tangata whenua, the commercial fishing industry, recreational fishing groups and environmental organisations that they all want a better fisheries management system,” Mr Nash says.

“Some of the current rules for commercial fishing are complex, open to interpretation, offer few incentives to adopt innovative practices, and may lead to lost economic value and wasted resources.

“We are asking for public feedback across four main areas of reform:

  • amending the rules for what fish must be brought back to port and what fish can be returned to the sea. This includes options to tighten the rules so fewer fish are returned to sea, or increasing flexibility so more fish can be returned;

  • reviewing the offences and penalties regime to ensure it’s fair and effective;

  • streamlining and updating the ministerial decision-making process for setting catch limits; and

  • technical changes to the Fisheries Act.

“I would like to hear a wide range of views. Fisheries New Zealand officials will travel the country to hold consultation meetings across ten centres, from Whangarei to Invercargill. Submissions can be made via the website, or by email or post. I anticipate decisions arising from this exercise will result in the development of new legislation later in 2019.

“This new phase of fisheries management reform follows the introduction of electronic reporting of commercial catches and of vessel positions to identify what fish are being caught and where. The first commercial vessels began electronic reporting in 2017 and it is being further rolled out this year.

“I can also confirm I am committed to considering on-board cameras once these policy questions are addressed. Previous regulations were unrealistic and were developed without adequate engagement. I expect to soon provide an update to Cabinet.

“There is a process to follow before on-board cameras can be considered and I need to first ensure the regulations are practical to implement, the technology is operationally ready to go, the systems are in place, and the fisheries management framework is clearly understood. Any proposal for on-board cameras would go through a public consultation process.

“The lessons from Australia, where it took 10 years to get 80 cameras in place, demonstrate that considerable time and effort should be invested in getting it right before the cameras are rolled out.

“Our fisheries management regime is underpinned by the Quota Management System (QMS) which has been in place for thirty years and is not affected by these proposed changes. But we are always looking for ways to improve the management of our fisheries. We want commercial fishing practice to align with our goals of sustainability. We also want to encourage innovation and new technology and to promote premium fisheries products as part of New Zealand’s global brand.

“The rules being discussed in today’s document set the framework for the next steps in fisheries management reform. They are designed to encourage a culture change so that every fish is valued by the commercial industry.  This needs to be driven by clear and easily understood rules that further incentivise the industry to adopt good fishing practices. That will require the industry to be more accountable, maximise the value of the catch, report accurately, and verify what is caught,” Mr Nash said.

The discussion document and information about the public meetings and how to make a submission can be found here: www.fisheries.govt.nz/haveyoursay . Consultation is open until 17 March 2019. 

Background: Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why are you proposing to change rules for landing and return of fish to the sea?

    We’re looking to simplify the rules in commercial fisheries around what fish must be landed and what can be returned to the sea, and ensure that these rules incentivise good fishing practice.

    In some places, the commercial fishing rules are unclear, hard to understand and can be open to interpretation. This can contribute to catches not being accurately reported or accounted for.

    For example, some commonly caught fish have minimum legal sizes, while others do not, and some fish can be legally returned to the sea regardless of size. For commercially caught fish which do have a minimum legal size, all undersize fish are currently required to be returned to the sea, alive or dead.

    The current rules also provide few incentives to fishers to avoid catching small or low value fish, because many fish can be legally returned to the sea. As a result, the rules do not effectively incentivise good fishing practice, or innovation in more selective fishing methods and practices.

  2. What’s the problem with being able to return a large range of fish to the sea?

    Many of these fish may not be currently reported, so the number of fish being returned to the sea is difficult to quantify. This information is an important factor when making fisheries management decisions, such as setting catch limits for a fish stock. We need reliable and more complete information on catches to support better fisheries management.

  3. How could commercial vessels avoid catching small or unwanted fish?

    We want to ensure that all fish caught under the QMS are accounted for. We know that given the right incentives, the industry can reduce the number of small or unwanted fish they catch by changing their fishing practices, such as modifying fishing gear setup, fishing at different times, or in different places.

  4. Why aren't you proposing changes to minimum sizes for recreational fishing?

    Recreational fishing methods by and large have a relatively low impact on the marine environment. Individuals are often able to return undersized fish to the sea unharmed.

    While the survival chances of released fish will depend on the method used to catch the fish, the depth at which they are caught and how they are handled before release, individuals largely have a choice over which fish to take home and which to return to the sea.

    A recreational minimum legal size limit, in combination with a daily bag limit, is the most effective and sustainable way to control a recreational catch allowance.

  5. Why do you want to introduce new offences and penalties?

    Fisheries offending has historically been hard to detect because it typically occurs out at sea, well away from the public eye. As a result we have strong penalties in place for when it is detected.

    The introduction of electronic catch and position reporting will increase the likelihood that breaches of commercial fishing rules are detected. As a result, we need to ensure flexible penalties are available and that we can respond in a commensurate way to the level of offending.

    Having a graduated range of offences and penalties based on the number of fish and how often breaches are made would offer a more balanced regime. It would also encourage good fishing practices if authorities had the ability to issue infringements for low-level offences.

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Views sought on blue cod fishing rules

Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash is encouraging people to have their say on proposed changes to rules controlling the blue cod fishery.

Proposed changes to regulations would apply to both recreational and commercial fishing. They were flagged in the Blue Cod Strategy released last month.

Mr Nash says the blue cod population is under pressure from a number of factors.

“Blue cod is one of our most popular eating fish but the species is vulnerable due to overfishing, changes to the marine environment such as warmer seas and pollution, and issues with their unique biology and life cycle,” Mr Nash says.

“The proposed changes to the recreational fishing rules include lowering daily bag limits in the South Island, which are up to 30 fish per day in some areas. The proposals also include the introduction of a two-day accumulation limit on the number of fish which can be taken over consecutive days, a requirement for blue cod to be landed in a measurable state, and a standardised minimum legal size of landed blue cod to 33cm nationwide.

“Changes proposed for both commercial and recreational fishers include introducing a minimum mesh size for cod pots of 54 millimetres.

“Blue cod stocks are becoming depleted. We are proposing new rules to address the decline we have seen in relatively small areas, and to make the regulations more consistent nationwide. This will make regulations easier to enforce and to comply with. 

“The consultation is now open for the public to have their say. Once consultation closes on 26 March, I will consider advice from Fisheries New Zealand officials which will include the information and feedback we receive through this process. I will make a decision on any potential changes later this year,” Mr Nash says.

For more information, and to have your say, visit www.fisheries.govt.nz/bluecod 

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Growth in Police deployments

The first Police graduation for 2019 creates a new total of 1,101 frontline officers deployed around the country since the Coalition Government took office.

Police Minister Stuart Nash today presented awards to the top recruits of Wing 322, whose Patron is the former Police Minister and current High Commissioner to Australia, Dame Annette King.

“This is the fifteenth recruit wing to graduate since the government took office,” Mr Nash says.

“Today’s graduation will see 79 extra officers deployed across all Police districts during January, focussing on crime prevention and community safety during the busy summer months. One of our top priorities is to improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders. There has been a significant drop in the number of people who have been victims of crime during the past year.

“I am delighted with the diversity, talent and experience our new constables bring. Fifteen percent identify as Maori, nine percent as Pasifika and a further nine percent are Asian. Nineteen new officers were born overseas and share 14 foreign languages between them. The new constables range in age from 18 to 49 years.

“One of today’s graduates represented New Zealand as a Kiwi Fern in the national rugby league team, another has recorded two no.1 albums with his bands Blindspott and Blacklistt, and one of the new constables has also achieved success as a fashion designer, reaching the finals of the World of Wearable Arts (WoW) Awards.

“The Coalition Agreement with New Zealand First undertakes to strive for 1800 new Police officers during our first term. In addition, there will be 485 new support staff.

“There is very strong interest from potential applicants who are keen on making a difference with a career in the Police. In the last six months of 2018 more than 2,800 people applied to join Police, an increase of 14 per cent on the same period in 2017. A new recruit wing is graduating every month, and accounting for attrition in the current workforce, we are well on the way towards our goal,” Mr Nash says.

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Andrew Little to lead delegation to UN Human Rights Review

Justice Minister, Andrew Little, lead a delegation to New Zealand’s third Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on 21 January.

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Ngāti Rangitihi progress towards settlement

Ngāti Rangitihi and the Crown are one step closer to settling historical Treaty claims after an Agreement in Principle was signed in the Bay of Plenty today, said Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Andrew Little.

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Coroners Act amended for tikanga Māori and ethnic communities’ values

The Coroners (Access to Body of Dead Person) Amendment Bill passed its third reading in Parliament last night.

“The Bill will ensure tikanga Māori and other ethnic cultural beliefs are considered and respected by our coronial system,” said Justice Minister Andrew Little.

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Ngāti Hinerangi and Crown initial Deed of Settlement

The Crown and Ngāti Hinerangi have initialed a Deed of Settlement for the iwi historical Treaty claims, Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Andrew Little announced today.

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Ngāti Tūwharetoa passes third reading

Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Andrew Little, today welcomed Te Ariki Tā Tumu Te Heuheu and members of Ngāti Tūwharetoa to Parliament to witness the Third Reading of their Treaty Settlement legislation, the Ngāti Tūwharetoa Claims Settlement Bill.

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Milestone in Police recruitment

A milestone in Police recruitment has been achieved with the deployment of more than 1,000 new constables around the country since the government was formed.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Police Minister Stuart Nash congratulated graduates of Wing 321 at a ceremony at the Royal New Zealand Police College. The 80 recruits have officially completed training and been sworn in as constables. They will be deployed across all districts and commence duties on Christmas Eve, 24 December.

“The presence of police in our neighbourhoods and towns is one of the most powerful ways to deter crime and build safer communities,” says Mr Peters. “Today’s graduation means 1,022 new frontline officers have graduated and been deployed across all regions since the government was formed.”

“The Coalition Agreement between New Zealand First and Labour strives to increase Police numbers by 1800 extra officers. We are making good progress. The deployment of the new constables is much-needed, especially in our provincial communities outside our largest city.

“Auckland has attracted 41 per cent of the new officers and others have been deployed the length and breadth of the country. For example Northland has 54 new officers, Waikato has 88, Central District has 74, there are 75 new constables in Bay of Plenty, Canterbury has 81, and Southern has 60 new officers. These previously neglected regions were crying out for more Police,” Mr Peters says.

“Now that recruitment and training has stepped up following increased investment, a new recruit wing is graduating every month,” Mr Nash says. The net gain, accounting for attrition in the current workforce, is 483 extra frontline officers since the beginning of the 2017/18 financial year. We are more than a quarter of the way towards our goal of 1800 extra police.

“A new recruit wing graduates every month. In addition there will be 485 extra support staff. Policing is increasingly seen as a worthwhile career option. There is growing diversity in Police ranks too. One third of the new officers are women. Today’s graduation also means the number of fulltime-equivalent female Police officers has passed the 2,000 mark.

 “One of the Government’s top three priorities is to improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders. We are building safer and more connected communities. There has been a significant drop in the number of people who have been victims of crime during 2018.

“Today’s graduates will be out on the streets and holiday spots over summer.  They bring diverse skills and experience to their role in keeping communities safe and preventing crime. They range in age from 19 to 52 and many have a strong tradition of volunteering in their communities such as surf lifesavers, firefighters, search and rescue work, sports coaching and mentoring young people. There are 17 born outside New Zealand and they share at least nine foreign languages between them.

“These new officers will help us to meet our goals of reducing victimisation and bringing down offending and imprisonment rates. I also thank the wing patron, Crown Solicitor Brian Dickey, for the support, mentoring and advice he offered during the 16-week training,” Mr Nash says.

 

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