Ministry of Fisheries officers in Northland are concerned seafood poaching is on the increase as more people feel the economic pinch.
Officers caught 12 people over five days with big hauls of undersize paua.
Northland locals seem to be poaching paua because they are feeling the economic pinch, says a Ministry of Fisheries officer in the area.
Officers caught 12 people over five days with big hauls of undersize paua on Northland's west coast.
Darren Edwards, the Ministry's Northland manager, says that includes two Kaitaia men caught with 140 paua. The men have had their vehicle seized. Four Hokianga men were caught with nearly 300 paua.
Mr Edwards says the daily limit of 10 paua per diver is plenty to put on the family table.
He says people may turn to the ocean for food as they come under financial pressure.
He says the pillaging by locals is disappointing and officers will be stepping up their patrols over the holidays.