Small numbers of undersized paua have been seized by police and fisheries officers as concerned members of the public play watchdog for the Ministry for Primary Industries over the holiday season.

The finds were confirmed in a statement from MPI acting compliance director Gary Orr who said: "MPI is extremely grateful for the help it receives from members of the public who share the Ministry's commitment to protecting our natural resources and ensuring the sustainability of fish stocks."

In one incident information from an observant member of the public resulted in police stopping a vehicle in Hastings and seizing five undersized paua thought to have been taken in the Kairakau Beach area. MPI will review information from police and decide what action should be taken.

In another incident, the MPI was told of concern about "a large number of people" gathering seafood on a shoreline not known for paua of legal size in the Waimarama-Ocean Beach area. Police and a fishery officer intervened and found a small number of undersized paua, but were unable to identify who had taken the paua.

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"Because of the language difficulties, the large number of people involved and the small number of paua [which were able to be returned to the sea], the matter was dealt with by way of educational advice," Mr Orr said. "Discussions with all present were amicable although challenging due to language barriers."

New Zealand has around 15,000 kilometres of coastline and Mr Orr said every New Zealander can play a part in monitoring that coastline and supporting Fishery Officers by reporting suspicious activity to Freephone 0800 4 POACHER (0800 47 62 24).