Four people have been sentenced for what is believed to be the biggest illegal haul of cockles.
Baoyi Mao, Xue Jin Mao, Wencoi Mao, and Xihuo Lu have been sentenced in the Christchurch District Court for possessing more than three times the daily recreational cockle limit.
They pleaded guilty.
The Ministry for Primary Industries says it received a tip-off in April the four were taking a very large amount of shellfish near the mouth of the Ashley River.
Ministry staff stopped the group and found they had more than 10,000 cockles in two cars.
The four have been fined $2000 each and their cars forfeited .
The local hapu, Ngai Tuahuriri, said it relied on the cockles as a food source and it was concerned that people would take so many.