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Volunteers recognised for safeguarding New Zealand’s fisheries

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Staff Reporter

17 June 2024, 4:07 AM

Volunteers recognised for safeguarding New Zealand’s fisheriesHonorary Fishery Officers dedicate thousands of hours

Across New Zealand, volunteers are celebrated during National Volunteer Week for their invaluable contributions to safeguarding local fisheries.

Among them are Honorary Fishery Officers (HFOs), whose dedication plays a crucial role in ensuring sustainable fishing practices for future generations.

Introduced in Auckland in 1967, HFOs now number approximately 200 nationwide, offering guidance, education, and vigilance in support of marine conservation efforts.

Steve Ham, Director of Fisheries Compliance at Fisheries New Zealand, emphasises their integral role: "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."

These volunteers commit a minimum of 100 hours annually to patrolling recreational fishing areas, undergoing rigorous training and operating under the authority of the Fisheries Act.

Ham underscores their impact, stating, "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."

Volunteers come from diverse backgrounds, united by a passion for preserving New Zealand's marine resources.

Ham encourages recognition of their efforts: "If you see them out on the water or at the wharf, tell them how much you appreciate them."

He also advises recreational fishers to stay informed by using the NZ Fishing Rules mobile app, which provides essential guidelines for fishing responsibly.

As National Volunteer Week highlights their commitment, HFOs stand as exemplars of community spirit and environmental stewardship, embodying the ethos of giving back to ensure a sustainable future for all.

NZ fishing rules app