A group of divers at Rotorua's Lake Okataina have been allegedly caught with almost three times the legal limit of koura - freshwater crayfish.
The Ministry for Primary Industries allegedly caught the divers, and companions, yesterday after a phone call from concerned members of the local community.
Team manager fisheries for the mid-central North Island Adam Plumstead said a patrol was planned for the Rotorua lakes that day.
"It was a group of six people, visiting Rotorua," he said.
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Freshwater koura have a legal limit, per gatherer, per day, of 50.
Despite being in a group of six, allegedly only four were diving, so the group were entitled to 200. The group allegedly took 587 koura from the lake.
Plumstead said it was still early days in the investigation but the Ministry would be looking to press charges.
A vehicle and dive gear have been seized.
Plumstead said koura was of cultural significance to local iwi.
Lake Okataina Scenic Reserve Board member Anaru Rangiheuea said there was a programme for koura restoration in the lake.
Rangiheuea said koura were a delicacy once restricted to Te Arawa.