A company specialising in "authentic Kiwi kai'' has been slammed with a $30,000 fine after buying and then selling paua from the black market.
DLish Hangi, from Tauranga, was convicted in the Tauranga District Court late last month.
A group of others from the Bay of Plenty area, including husband and wife Luana and Hira Noble and another local, Lee Wells, pleaded guilty to charges under the Fisheries Act.
The company - whose menu included creamed paua, boil-up pie, kina pots, hangi and mussel chowder - was convicted and fined for its part in a black market sale of paua and kina that resulted in more than $20,000 worth of illegal sales over about a year.
Luana Noble, who was the director of the company, was sentenced to 10 months home detention and 200 hours community work. She also had to pay $5,000 in court costs.
Hira Noble was convicted and received the same sentence as his wife. He was also banned from fishing for the next three years.
Wells was convicted and sentenced to 200 hours community work.
Other residents connected to the black market ring, June Faulkner, Pixie Wells and Anthony Jackson, have also been sentenced or due to be sentenced for their part.
A statement from the Ministry of Primary Industries said the Nobles received up to 113kg of illegally taken minced paua.
The paua came from Jackson and Lee Wells, who had been running a black market business diving for kina and paua on Motiti Island before selling it on.
The pair sold minced paua in zip-lock bags for $40 and $80.
The kina roe - which they put into different sized containers - were sold for between $30 and $160.
MPI Michael Simmons said the extent of the offending was serious.
He said over a 13-month period, up to 250kg of minced paua and 43L of kina was sold on the black market.
That resulted in up to $22,000 worth of sales.
"This level of illegal take represents approximately 32 per cent of the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) for the paua fishery from Tirau Point on the west coast of the North Island to Cape Runaway.
"That's about 33 per cent more than the volume that was commercially harvested across the entire paua fishery in the area in 2014/15.''
Simmons said during the time the seafood was collected, the Ministry of Health issued a warning about gathering shellfish in the Bay of Plenty area.
There was a risk of paralytic shellfish toxins that therefore made it unsafe to eat.
He also said the offending could have had lasting effects.
"Paua stocks cannot afford to be plundered in this way. The sustainability of the stock is paramount to ensure the survival of a valuable resource for current and future generations.''