DoC obviously needs further budgetary trimming.
As things stand, it can afford the luxury of employing staff with nothing much better to do than threaten to prosecute people like Simon O’Donnell, a bloke from Paekakariki, who had what is described as a close encounter with a whale off the Kapiti Coast north of Wellington on Friday.
The southern right whale, which caused traffic chaos on State Highway 1 when it was spotted in the ocean near Paekakariki, inspired local man Simon O’Donnell to paddle out on his surf-ski and get close to it.
“I just had to get on her, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity she was beautiful. I thought I was a whale rider,” Mr O’Donnell told The Dominion Post.
He said he got so close that at one stage he stood on its back as it swam under him.
“For one second I stood up on her. I didn’t ride her like the whale rider, but I was standing on her for a split second. It was a buzz.”
He is paying a price for his fun in the surf. He has been ticketed for illegal parking and having an expired car registration.
That might not be the end of it.
He also has opened himself up for a fine for getting too close to the whale.
Conservation Department marine ecologist Nadine Bott wasn’t impressed, saying Mr O’Donnell could have potentially driven the whale inshore or away altogether.
“It’s nothing to be proud of, harassing a whale,” she said.
Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, people cannot be closer than 50 metres from whales, and fines for such breaches can amount to $30,000.
It’s bureaucratic madness.
Not only have those over-zealous DoC buggers hired someone with the highly disagreeable name “Bott”.
At her behest, they also are thinking about invoking an absurd bit of regulation that would have resulted in Captain Queeg being prosecuted for tormenting Moby Dick.
If they can contemplate cracking down on this O’Donnell feller, they should first make an example of Whale Rider star Keisha Castle-Hughes.
Instead of being hounded by DoC, she gets to chat with the bloody PM about climate change.
Yet she’s the one who has put the idea of riding whales for fun into our heads.