Every pāua gatherer who was stopped at a Ministry for Prime Industries/police checkpoint at Ahipara on Saturday was found to be in breach of the regulations.
And every one of them was local, which has disappointed those charged with protecting the precious marine resource.
MPI Northland Fishery Compliance Team manager Steve Rudsdale said the majority of those who manned the checkpoint, on Foreshore Rd, were honorary fishery officers, who were passionate about protecting resources for future generations and gave generously of their time.
The aim had been to check vehicles that had been at Tauroa (Reef) Point where the pāua beds come under immense pressure over the summer months.
A total of 30 vehicles were inspected as they left the beach, resulting in the issuing of 10 infringement notices and two warnings for possession of excess and undersize pāua.
One vehicle was also seized, and the sole occupant, who allegedly had 44 pāua, was facing court action. A party of three, who had 61, all but three of them undersized, were issued with infringement notices.
"All the pāua gatherers inspected were found to be in breach of the fisheries regulations," Rudsdale said.
"It was also very disappointing to see that all the persons apprehended were from the local area, and should be aware of the need to protect this valuable resource. Pāua are a slow-growing species with poor reproductive ability, and behaviour of this type has a negative impact on the stock.
"In this modern age there is no excuse for not knowing the rules around daily bag and size limits, information that is readily available from the MPI website (www.mpi.govt.nz) or by downloading the free NZ Fishing app."
All the shellfish seized on Saturday were returned to the water, while Rudsdale warned that the ministry would continue to be watching at Ahipara, and elsewhere, to ensure compliance with the regulations. The maximum recreational pāua take is 10 per person per day and the paua must be at least 125mm.
Contravention of the Fisheries Act, which includes pāua poaching, attracts a maximum fine of $250,000 and/or a community-based sentence.
If you spot suspicious activity in a marine reserve, including taking of fish or shellfish, should call the 24-hour DOC emergency hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).