Two men have allegedly been poaching paua from rock pools at a Wellington marine reserve in broad daylight, wearing high-viz vests and for more than two months.
The Department of Conservation has described their actions as arrogant.
DoC biodiversity ranger Colin Giddy said the men were reported last week by residents who overlook the Taputeranga Marine Reserve.
The area extends about 2.3km off the capital's south coast.
Giddy said the offending was brazen and the arrogance startling.
The men could face charges under the Marine Reserves Act and Fisheries Act.
Penalties for taking marine life from a marine reserve include three months in prison, fines of up to $10,000 and possible forfeiture of boats and fishing equipment.