A Napier man has pleaded guilty to taking more than 20 times the legal limit of paua, with all but one of them being undersized.
Karaitiana James Lee Nissen, 31, appeared before Judge Geoff Rea at Napier District court yesterday and admitted taking 266 paua from Waipatiki Beach in March last year.
He was also charged for 265 of those paua being undersized.
Judge Rea said this was a "relatively serious amount of paua and must be getting close to commercial quantities".
He sentenced Nissen to 250 hours of community work for each of the charges, to run concurrently. The maximum penalty for this type of offending is a $250,000 fine.
Nissen was jointly charged with another man who also appeared briefly in the same court before a registrar.
He entered no pleas and was remanded at large until March 9.
According to a Ministry for Primary Industries summary of facts, at about midday on March 1, 2015, Nissen and the other man were approached and inspected by fishery officers at Waipatiki Beach.
The summary reported Nissen had 54 paua in a bag he was carrying, the other man was allegedly carrying 212 paua.
Nissen claimed he had customary authorisation for the diving which was later revealed to have been obtained by an associate of his, but the authorisation did not authorise Nissen to gather and take the amount of paua he was found with. The reason he gave for taking about 150 paua was for a hui.
The summary said Nissen had then obtained customary authorisation after being caught, but later admitted this was inappropriate and he had gotten it to try and cover up what he had taken.
Judge Rea ordered the bags which the paua were being carried in to be destroyed.
Under the Fisheries Act 1996, 10 paua can be taken per person per day. They must measure 125mm or more.
Ministry for Primary Industries prosecutor Aroha Cooper said the sizes of seized paua ranged from as small as 67mm.