An Orion flew Northland's coastline looking for fishers breaching Covid-19 lockdown laws. Photo / File
An aerial swoop by an Air Force Orion spotted people out fishing in boats off Northland's coast during lockdown and some may find they will now have a visit by police on land.
The Orion left from Whenuapai base and passed over Ruakākā about 9.40am on Sunday and flew the east coast of Northland right to North Cape.
A police spokesperson said police in Northland had been working closely with Customs and the Harbourmaster during the Covid-19 lockdown period to undertake regular patrols to ensure people were complying with level 4 restrictions and were not on the water when they shouldn't be.
The Air Force flyover covered areas outside the reach of Customs and the Harbourmaster teams.
During the flight 28 vessels were spotted - 16 commercial fishing boats, one merchant vessel, all legally at sea, and 11 pleasure craft that should not have been on the water.
"Police are pleased that most people have been compliant, and have been adhering to the restrictions" the spokesperson said.
"There were only a small number of boats seen, and our staff will follow up with some of their owners to better understand their specific circumstances."
A New Zealand Defence Force spokesperson said aerial surveillance was a capability used during patrols with other government agencies of New Zealand's exclusive economic zone, on Search and Rescue missions, humanitarian aid and disaster relief, and responses to natural disasters.
The NZDF provides operational support throughout the year to the Ministry for Primary Industries for fisheries patrols to ensure the sustainable management of fisheries.
The New Zealand Defence Force remained ready to respond to requests from civil authorities for support as part of the national response to Covid-19.
Over the 33 days that New Zealand was under level 4 restrictions the overwhelming majority of the public followed the rules.
Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said the move to level 3 on Tuesday was a credit to the way New Zealanders responded to the level 4 restrictions and, by and large, the high levels of compliance.
During level 4 restrictions police did tens of thousands of reassurance checks at essential facilities such as supermarkets, pharmacies and petrol stations and community patrols right across the country.
More than 5800 breaches were recorded during the lockdown, with the biggest culprits being from Counties Manukau and Wellington.
Of the 5857 breaches recorded nationwide, 554 were under the Civil Defence Emergency Act and 5303 were under the Health Act including 216 in Northland.
Northland and the Bay of Plenty districts recorded the lowest number of breaches during level 4.