The largest paua bust for the Auckland region in more than a decade has been uncovered.

The Ministry of Primary Industries found four people in possession of 260 paua, 258 of which were shucked and all of which were undersized.

Two junior fisheries officers were on a routine late shift patrol in West Auckland earlier this week when they came across a car they considered to be in a suspicious location near Cornwallis Wharf, said MPI spokesman Jacob Hore. They pulled the vehicle over as it left the area and found hundreds of undersized, shucked paua in the possession of three men and a woman.

"Unfortunately, the paua were all dead because they had been removed from their shells when our officers found them. They were taken back to the office to be weighed, measured and stored for evidential purposes.

Advertisement

"The officers seized all the paua and the dive gear used in the alleged offending."

If the paua had still been in their shells the officers would have measured them there and returned them to the sea.

Hore was particularly impressed with the bust because the fishing officers were just juniors.

"This represents the largest paua gathering offence detected in the Auckland region in more than 10 years. It is fantastic to see our new officers using their initiative and delivering great results.

"It is likely that all the people who the officers found in the car will face regulation charges and charges under the Fisheries Act."