Govt committed to stamping out fish thieves

Tuesday 27 May 2008, 3:51PM
By Hon Jim Anderton

“Poaching is theft” is the simple message from Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton after the Ministry of Fisheries commenced Operation PAID in the early hours of this morning, breaking up a major paua poaching ring.

This operation is the culmination of many months of hard work by dedicated fishery officers and investigators and especially by the special duties fishery officer who has spent months working undercover to infiltrate this gang.

Jim Anderton said this operation showed the government’s commitment to stamping out the organised theft of our valuable fish stocks and it should weigh heavily on the minds of potential fish thieves.

“When we catch up with fish thieves they can expect to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and to lose their fishing gear and any boats or vehicles they use in their offending.”

In 2005, the Government announced new funding of around $3 million a year to crack down on poachers and the black market sale of stolen seafood. This included:
• creating a special operations team for covert and undercover operations such as Operation PAID;
• purchasing specialist surveillance equipment;
• training paua sniffer dogs to screen outgoing luggage and mail and detect paua smuggling;
• increasing dedicated investigative staff; and
• training Customs and Aviation Security Service staff in the identification and handling of illegal seafood.

Jim Anderton said the aim was to completely disrupt the entire black market supply and distribution chain.

“There will be no let up in the pressure on these fish thieves; the Government is determined to stamp them out."