From Paratrooper to Senior Fishery Officer – the many lives of Allan Gilmour

Senior Fishery Officer, Allan Gilmour patrols a wide area throughout the Wellington region, including the south coast, Kapiti coast and Horowhenua coast.

Allan became a Fisheries New Zealand Fishery Officer in 2019. It was the latest career move for the public servant who has also served in the British Army and in the New Zealand Defence Force – he was an artillery forward observer, along with being a paratrooper in the British Army and did similar work with NZDF along with instructing soldiers.

Originally from Scotland, Allan Gilmour spent 20 years as a soldier across both countries. He was also a Biosecurity Quarantine Officer before transferring his skills into fisheries compliance work as a frontline Fishery Officer.

“My motivation for becoming a Fishery Officer was about being part of a team that protects fishing resources so that future generations can enjoy what we have access to now,” he says.

Allan says the most common issues he deals with is generally people with excess and undersize fish.

“Life is busy as a Fishery Officer. I meet a lot of people who are diving, fishing with rods or both. A lot of time is spent educating newer recreational fishers on the rules. Most of the divers and fishers I come across want to understand the rules and fish within them,” he says.

Allan has worked on various fisheries cases that have gone before the court and says it’s a satisfying feeling when a case you’ve worked hard on, such as a poaching case goes through to prosecution and sentence.

“When we catch people for serious fisheries offending, there’s a lot of work that goes into putting a case together. I’ll be interviewing the alleged offenders and hearing their version of the story and while sometimes genuine mistakes have been made, in the more serious cases, that’s generally not the situation and it’s satisfying knowing fishing resources are better off for the work I do in contributing to sustainable fisheries.

My work constantly changes – I could be out on the water with a sea patrol, or I might be walking a beach and checking on fishers. The scenery is sublime and as they say – you can’t beat Wellington on a good day. Occasionally I’ll encounter someone who is a bit hostile towards having their catch inspected, but if people stick to the daily limits and sizes, there’s nothing to worry about,” he says.

Outside of work, Allan has two daughters that keep him on his feet with various sporting commitments and he also enjoys working out at the gym and playing football in a master’s team after 18 years on the sideline.

“If you’re unsure of the fishing rules in your area or somewhere new, the best thing to do is download the free NZ Fishing Rules app. Once downloaded, it even works in areas where you don’t have cell phone coverage,” Allan Gilmour says.

MPI encourages people to report suspected illegal activity through the Ministry’s 0800 4 POACHER number (0800 476 224).

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