MAF salutes its volunteers
5 December 2011
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry today acknowledged the work of the many volunteers who have important roles in fisheries and biosecurity.
MAF Director General Wayne McNee said World Volunteer Day was an appropriate time to thank Honorary Fishery Officers and the volunteer families who rear and train beagle puppies that may become detector dogs.
“Our 239 Honorary Fishery Officers and beagle-training families are passionate about their work and we simply couldn’t do without them,” Mr McNee said.
“Honorary Fishery Officers are all ages and come from varied backgrounds. They are deeply involved in helping protect in New Zealand’s iconic recreational fisheries. This is especially important with the busy summer fishing season getting into full swing.”
Mr McNee said it wasn’t unusual for Honorary Fishery Officers to go well beyond the call of duty. “For example, in October this year Honorary Fishery Officers Dean Kaire and Phil Boughey rescued a nine-year-old Auckland boy from drowning. Their presence of mind undoubtedly saved a young life.”
Two Honorary Fishery Officers have recently been recognised for their work patrolling beaches to help make sure fishers understand and stick to the recreational fishing rules. Trevor Collings from South Auckland and Murray Daniels (North Canterbury) are recipients of Queen’s Service medals. “These two from either end of the country represent all that is good about our volunteers,” Mr McNee said.
MAF is always on the lookout for new Honorary Fishery Officers; the aim is to have 250 by July 2012.
The Detector Dog Programme involves the use of beagles in helping protect New Zealand agriculture from foreign pests and diseases.
Mr McNee said beagles are typically used because of their long history as a scent hound, and their successful use in the US Navy as narcotic detector dogs.
“Beagles have proved hugely popular with the public due to their small, non-threatening size,” Mr McNee said. “They are trained to work in the presence of the travelling public at the baggage collection points of international airports. Volunteer families have an important part to play in their early training.”
Mr McNee said MAF was extremely grateful for the excellent job all its volunteers do. “Honorary Fishery Officers are a crucial component of the concept of 4 Million Guardians of our fisheries,” he said. “Creating awareness and developing understanding of the recreational fishing rules is a core part of their role.
“Setting potential detector dogs on the right path towards contributing to our biosecurity system is also very important.”