From Soldier to Fishery Officer
Looking for a new adventure after a lengthy career in the army, Gareth Manson found it as a Senior Fishery Officer in the Deep South. Gareth has been a fishery officer for around four years – a job where the office is often on the move, both on the land and at sea.
“When the opportunity came up, it was too attractive to let it pass me by and after 19 years in the New Zealand Army, I was ready to take on a new challenge,” he says.
One of Gareth’s main jobs is skippering the 7.5 metre Osprey patrol vessel, Toro.
“I’ve been behind the wheel for the past 3 years. It’s a shared role and means I’m responsible for the safety of up to three Fishery Officers when I’m driving. Our work at sea means we’ll go alongside both recreational and inshore commercial vessels for compliance checks on their fish catch and gear,” he says.
Gareth also manages a team of Honorary Fishery Officers (HFOs). HFOs are volunteers who are trained to a similar level as Fishery Officers and do about 50% of recreational compliance work.
“They’re passionate volunteers, ranging in age from their 20s to 70s. They do a huge amount of work with us both on the water or along the coasts. As well as compliance work, they’re invaluable to the educational work we do, ensuring people are aware of the rules and regulations.”
Further information including rules for other fish species is available on MPI’s website or by downloading the free NZ Fishing Rules app.
“We’re always on the hunt for new HFOs. If you love the ocean and are enthusiastic about protecting the environment and sustainability of fish resources – give it a shot, as you might have many of the skills we’re generally looking for. One of my favourite parts of our work is interacting with a lot of different people I wouldn’t meet in my daily life if I wasn’t a Fishery Officer,” he says.
Gareth has never been a chained-tothe-desk employee and when it comes to his work life, the attraction is the unpredictability of each day.
“We’re monitoring compliance of recreational fishers from the land and sea. We’re also focused on inshore and deepwater commercial vessels and restaurants or retailors dealing in seafood. The work of Fishery Officers is remarkably diverse – one day we can be patrolling the Catlins coastline and the next day we could be patrolling in the waters of South Westland Jackson Bay,” he says.
Meanwhile, you might think that outside work, Gareth takes a break from the ocean, however it’s a big part of his life recreationally, too.
“I’m a keen fisher and boatie and recently got into spearfishing. I love everything about the ocean, whether it’s swimming and surfing with my daughter or just being there. The Dunedin coastline is unique,” he says.
If you have questions about becoming an HFO, email
MPI encourages people to report suspected illegal activity through the Ministry’s 0800 4 POACHER number (0800 476 224).