Two Auckland men have had their dive gear seized and facing fisheries charges after being caught with excess and undersized paua in the Coromandel Peninsula.
The two men, aged 35 and 37, were seen leaving the beach and walking back to their car in Te Karo Bay (also known as Sailors Grave) in Tairua yesterday evening where they were stopped and spoken to by a fisheries officer.
When their backpacks were searched they were found to have 43 undersized paua and 89 more than their allowable daily quota.
Some of the paua found on the men were as small as 60mm in length.
The daily allowable limit for paua is 10 per person and the minimum size limit is 125mm.
Both men are now facing charges in relation to taking or possessing more than three times the allowable daily limit of paua and also taking undersize or possessing undersize paua.
Taking or possessing excess shellfish carries penalties of up to $20,000 and can also involve sentences of community service.
Property used in the offending can also be seized and forfeited to the Crown including dive gear, vehicles, and boats.
Bay of Plenty/Waikato District compliance manager, Brendon Mikkelsen, said blatantly taking such large numbers of undersize paua is unacceptable.
"This type of behaviour shows a level of blatant disregard of fishing rules and will not be tolerated.
"This is the third apprehension in recent weeks where people have been caught taking excess and undersize shellfish in remote locations in the Coromandel Peninsula.
"I hope that it serves as a deterrent to others contemplating similar behaviour and sends the message that locally based Fishery Officers are conducting patrols and surveillance in these remote locations."
Members of the public who see any unlawful activity (including suspected poaching and/or offering seafood for sale on the black-market) are urged to phone the Ministry's freephone hotline, 0800 4 POACHER (0800 4 76224) in confidence.
"The assistance of the public by reporting suspicious or illegal activity to fishery officers is a key element in protecting our fisheries," said Mr Mikkelsen.
A court date has yet to be set for the accused poachers.