Govt defends poaching operation

Royal New Zealand Navy confronts poachers.

Govt defends poaching operation

The Government is denying accusations by New Zealand First that the navy was too passive in its Southern Ocean stand-off with toothfish poachers.

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said such criticism was ill-informed and the operation had actually been a success.

Equatorial Guinea gave permission for New Zealand to board three fishing ships to verify their flagged status, after agreeing they were illegally fishing for toothfish in Antarctic waters.

Yesterday, crew on HMNZS Wellington were refused entry to the vessels by the captains, and did not forcefully enter because it was deemed to be too dangerous.

New Zealand First’s defence spokesperson Ron Mark said the Navy’s “toothless” response to the illegal toothfish fishing was an embarrassment. He said a literal shot across the poachers’ bows was what was required.

“How we behave right now will determine how poachers and pirates treat us in the future,” he said.

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