Fishery Officers rammed in serious incident
17 December 2010
The Ministry of Fisheries today reported an incident on the afternoon of 16 December in Tokomaru Bay off the North Island’s east coast, where a Ministry patrol boat was rammed by a commercial fishing vessel while retrieving illegally set crayfish pots.
Two Fishery Officers carrying out a routine pot-lifting patrol in their 5.9-metre vessel, Te Tiaki, were deliberately rammed twice by a larger 7.5-metre commercial crayfish vessel.
At the time of the incident the Te Tiaki was fully loaded with seized illegal pots and was due to return to shore to offload the gear.
The Fishery Officers were verbally abused by the alleged offender on the commercial vessel during the incident, which lasted between 15 and 20 minutes. The officers estimated that the commercial vessel had been travelling at between 15 and 20 knots immediately before it struck their boat.
Ross Thurston, Ministry of Fisheries National Operations Manager, said the incident had been reported to police and the offender is likely to face serious police and fisheries charges.
“Inquiries are continuing, the alleged offender is being interviewed and the vessel used in the incident has been seized,” he said. “The matter has also been reported to Maritime New Zealand.”
Mr Thurston says this sort of behaviour is intolerable and poses an unacceptable risk to Fishery Officers doing their duty on behalf of the public.
“We’re very lucky that the incident didn’t leave our two dedicated staff members seriously injured - or worse,” he said. “The offender was extremely aggressive and wasn’t backing off. It’s simply not on and we won’t tolerate it.”