A Central Hawke's Bay beach has been struck once again by poachers - who are alleged to have seized nearly 500 of the shellfish.
On Friday, police informed the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) about a haul of dumped paua at Blackhead Beach, near Porangahau.
An MPI spokesperson said its fishery officers had taken possession of three sacks with a total of 485 paua. All but two were undersized.
The limit for paua is 10 per person with a minimum size of 125mm.
The spokesperson said a vehicle was seized and a number of people have been spoken to, but that inquiries were continuing.
The officer in charge could not be reached for comment yesterday. A police spokesman said MPI were the lead party on this matter.
The coastal area near Porangahau is often targeted by such illegal activity.
Waipukurau sergeant Ross Gilbert said there had been a number of poaching incidents in this area in recent months, and "unfortunately it is a relatively common occurrence".
"We do get a lot of people poaching out on the coast of Central Hawke's Bay, far more than we, or MAFS, or the locals would like to see."
When asked why he thought that area was popular with poachers, he said there was a good fishery, and high stock levels there: "It's probably one of the healthiest fisheries in Hawke's Bay for paua".
Aside from a small settlement near the beach, the area was also relatively isolated.
In October, four men were caught at Parimahu (Black Head Pt) with 366 paua. All but two were undersized - with one measuring just 45mm.
Late last year there was a sharp increase in alleged poaching incidents at the nearby Te Angiangi Marine Reserve - between Blackhead and Aramoana - with the Department of Conservation apprehending seven people in as many weeks for suspected illegal fishing inside the reserve.
Maximum penalties for unlawful hunting under the Wild Animal Control Act were fines of up to $100,000 plus up to two years in prison.
Police warned that hunting-related items including firearms, knives, dogs, GPS units and vehicles could also be seized and forfeited