Protests by Papamoa surf casters have forced the Tauranga City council to introduce spot checks for unauthorised vehicles on city beaches.
A group calling itself Papamoa Law Abiding Fishermen has complained that an increasing number of all-terrain vehicles were taking to the beaches without bothering to pay the $30 licence fee that allowed them to be there.
A petition representing 29 people said that about one in four quad bikes on the beach were not authorised to be there.
"No one takes any notice when we try to point out the requirements," the group said in a letter tabled at a council meeting recently.
Council monitoring officer Brian Jupp said that since the fee was increased to $30 in 2009, the applications for licences to drive on the beach had dropped from 159 to 110.
He said the beach was a public road, with vehicles the responsibility of police. Monitoring of whether the $30 fee had been paid was driven by complaints and council staff did not have the power to stop a moving vehicle and issue a ticket.
"Council does not have the resources to monitor this activity on a constant basis."
Removing the licensing requirement would see the beach become an open slather to everyone with all-terrain vehicles, he warned.
The petition said fishermen did not object to the fee, provided it was policed properly. They were concerned that genuine fishers could lose the privilege of driving on the beach if the current situation resulted in someone getting injured.
Mr Jupp said the council could arrange for the police to carry out a spot check, but when the time came for the operation the police often had something more important to deal with, or the tide and the weather made it a waste of time.
Mayor Stuart Crosby said the fishermen were frustrated because they were doing the right thing while watching others do the wrong thing. He said the problem was mostly caused by out-of-towners.
Cr Wayne Moultrie said that rather than sweep the problem under the carpet they needed to introduce spot checks.
Environmental compliance manager John Payne said he was unsure whether the council could legally get people to pay the $30 fee. Mr Crosby said enforcement needed to stay in the hands of bylaw officers and police.