A group has been caught with allegedly more than three times the legal limit of popular shellfish tuatua in Tauranga.
A Ministry for Primary Industries honorary fishery officer patrol were inspecting the catch of a group of four people at Pāpāmoa's Taylors Reserve on Wednesday when they made the discovery.
Initially, the group showed the officers a bucket with the daily allowable limit of 600 tuatua, or 150 each. However, following a search, officers uncovered a chilly bin in their vehicle allegedly containing a further 1287 tuatua.
MPI Acting Regional Manager for Fisheries Compliance, Jodie Cole said it was disappointing given the number of shellfish taken and what appeared to be a general disregard for the rules.
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"The local shellfish beds have been under a lot of pressure throughout summer. There is visual signage in the area which clearly states the daily take limit of 150 tuatua per gatherer.
"Ignorance of the rules is no excuse and it won't be tolerated by staff who work hard every day protecting the resource. In this case, it was the dedicated work of our voluntary fishery officers," he said.
Cole said the group had been interviewed and could face prosecution.
If you intend to go recreational fishing or to gather shellfish, you can download the NZ Fishing Rules app to ensure you know the rules.
And if you become aware of suspicious fishing activity, call MPI on 0800 4 POACHER or email email@example.com