CHANGES TO VOLUNTEER FISHERIES NETWORK POSITIVE
2 April 2004
The Ministry of Fisheries says recent changes to its volunteer fisheries network, Honorary Fisheries Officers, have been effective and positive.
Manager Compliance Operations, Shaun Driscoll, said a number of changes had been made to the HFO network over recent years. The Ministry was satisfied the changes had enhanced the service.
"An increasing number of assaults on HFO's has necessitated a review of their operational environment," he said.
"As a result of the review, new work practices have been put in place which are a prudent response to the requirements of Occupational Health and Safety legislation, and the responsibilities the legislation places on the Ministry of Fisheries.
"The HFO role is a difficult one and special skills are needed. MFish HFOs are empowered to enforce a wide range of fisheries laws, and as such, need to be trained professionals who understand the enforcement ethic and who can maintain the disciplines necessary to be an effective enforcement officer as well as maintaining the confidence of the New Zealand public in their job."
"At all times we are very aware that these people are volunteers who are giving up their own time to do this unpaid work but the role demands a high level of commitment to training and disciplined work practices. As a result of the review we no longer have people holding warrants who are not active or who are unable to commit sufficient time to maintain their skills and knowledge at an acceptable level.
"The changes to the HFO network have been positive. The results now being achieved suggest a far greater level of effectiveness than was previously the case. The level of patrol work undertaken is increasing, and it is certainly far more coordinated than it was before."
Mr Driscoll said the Ministry had also taken significant steps in recent years to improve the coverage of its full time staff in a number of regions. For example:
q In Auckland a new team of 10 Fisheries Officers had been appointed and charged with looking after recreational fishing.
q In the Bay of Plenty, new offices had opened in Whitianga and Opotiki, enabling a much improved presence and better co-ordination of HFO activity.
q In the South Island, a new office had been opened in Blenheim, staffed by three full time Fisheries Officers.
For further information please contact
Shaun Driscoll, Manager, Compliance Operations, Ministry of Fisheries
Tel 07 574 5102 or 021 680 592