Saturday, July 13, 2024

Honouring our fishery officers in Volunteer Week

Volunteers throughout the country, including Honorary Fishery Officers (HFOs) are being recognised for their selfless work as part of National Volunteer Week celebrations.

The patrol work of about 200 volunteers is critical to keeping New Zealand fisheries sustainable and protected for future generations.

HFOs were first introduced in Auckland in 1967 as a way for people in the community to donate their time to help make a difference to local fisheries, says Fisheries New Zealand director fisheries compliance, Steve Ham.

“Nearly 60 years later there are about 200 HFOs working in communities around the country providing advice, conversation, and a watchful eye in the name of sustainability,” he says.

“Like a lot of volunteers, our HFOs are selfless people. They do this work voluntarily because they care about their community – our shared fishing resources and protecting them so that future generations can enjoy putting fresh kaimoana on the dinner table.

“A big part of what they do is talking to people, answering curious questions, and explaining the rules.”

Cory Grant has been an HFO for over 7 years, helping protect the Wellington fishery and keep it sustainable.

These days, each HFO contributes a minimum of 100 hours voluntary work a year to looking after recreational fishing areas. They’re put through intensive training, wear a uniform, and have a warrant under the Fisheries Act.

“Their work is critical to ensuring sustainability throughout all our fisheries. HFOs are front and centre on New Zealand’s coastlines, conducting between 18,000 and 22,500 inspections each year. They do around 40% of the recreational compliance work,” said Mr Ham.

“They come from a range of backgrounds, but they all share a passion for our fisheries. If you see them out on the water or at the wharf, tell them how much you appreciate them. One of the best things all recreational fishers can do to understand the rules in their area is download the free NZ Fishing Rules mobile app before heading out.”

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