INDEPENDENT NEWS

Fisheries Officers Dangerous Job w/out Protection

Published: Thu 26 Oct 2006 09:35 AM
Fisheries Officers Do Dangerous Job Without Proper Protection
Heather Roy
Wednesday, 25 October 2006
Press Releases - Crime & Justice
One in twenty fisheries officers is seriously assaulted every year, and the Government expects officers to protect our coastal environment without the means to defend themselves, says ACT National Security Spokesman, Heather Roy.
"Protection of our fisheries is important both to New Zealand's national security and to our environment, but confrontational situations often arise for officers on the front-line", Mrs Roy said.
"There are only 85 front-line blue uniforms, and it is not uncommon for them to work in isolated areas, on their own, where cellphone and radio coverage is sporadic and the police a long way away, should their assistance be needed.
"A Ministry of Fisheries overview from 2004 of reported incidents of threat or assault - released under the Official Information Act - shows that more than a third of all the incidents reported by officers involve the use or presentation of weapons.
"The report notes that fisheries officers have a similar likelihood as sworn police officers to be assaulted with a weapon.
"The National Union of Public Employees has campaigned for three years to allow their members to use pepper spray and batons in self defence. Fisheries officers aren't asking for guns or tasers, but for tools to help them escape from dangerous situations.
"The Minister of Fisheries, Jim Anderton, said in a letter to the New Zealand Herald today that figures do not justify allowing fisheries officers the means to protect themselves.
"The Minister's advice to fisheries officers in danger is to withdraw and call the police. He is obviously out of touch with what fisheries officers do and the situations that they face.
"Fisheries officers are our first, last and often only line of defence against those who would plunder our coastline. While protecting our environment, they should be allowed to protect themselves", Mrs Roy asked.
ENDS

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