A senior manager at the Minister for Primary Industries has warned there will be zero tolerance for those who abuse fisheries staff after a man deliberately drove his car at an officer.
Brendon Mikkelsen, the Ministry's Waikato and Bay of Plenty district compliance manager, has warned that the ministry will take a "no-tolerance approach" to any offending, saying it could result in court action.
His comments come after the recent conviction of a Tauranga commercial fisherman who has been fined $3000 after he deliberately drove at a fishery officer.
Bruce William Clifford Roberts, 50, was sentenced in the Whakatane District Court on August 3, after he pleaded guilty to a charge of behaving in a threatening manner towards a fishery officer.
In March, Roberts was driving his four-by-four from Port Ohope when the officer standing about 100m away signalled him to pull over.
When Roberts got within about 30m to 40m of the officer he headed straight towards him, increasing his speed as he did so, the court heard.
The fishery officer, who yelled out "Stop, fisheries" several times, had to move out of the way to avoid being hit.
Roberts has since apologised to his victim at a restorative justice meeting.
Roberts had to pay a $1500 redemption fee for the return of his confiscated vehicle and $130 court costs.
The Bay of Plenty Times can report it is not the first time Roberts has been convicted for fisheries offences.
In December 2010, he was fined $13,000 after being caught setting crab pots in Mount Maunganui's Matatitai Reserve in August that year, and for obstructing a fishery officer.
Mr Mikkelsen told the Bay of Plenty Times that fortunately this sort of threatening behaviour was not common.
"However, there is a small percentage of people who do have a lot to say to our fisheries officers on occasions, and some people can be quite aggressive or even abusive. But most people usually do come to their senses in the end," he said.
Mr Mikkelsen said from the outset fisheries officers explained to people what was going to happen, and the purpose for searching their vehicles and their catch.
"The focus for our fisheries officers is to check that the catch is fully compliant with our rules, and ultimately to ensure the sustainability of our fisheries stocks."
Mr Mikkelsen said the ministry took a dim view of anyone being abusive, threatening or obstructing fishery officers who were simply doing their job.
"We do take a no-tolerance approach," he said.
"When someone is abusive or non-compliant it's obviously not useful and totally unacceptable, and potentially could end in court action."