The Ministry of Fisheries says repeat paua poachers in Gisborne are robbing locals - particularly Maori communities.
A man identified by fisheries officers as a recidivist paua offender was apprehended with about 750 undersized abalone at the weekend, and could face serious charges.
The ministry's field operations manager for Poverty Bay/East Coast, Tom Teneti, says Maori are the biggest users of the resource, collecting paua to cater for customary events such as hui and tangihanga.
Mr Teneti says that while most people in Gisborne seem to be aware of the limits for collecting paua, a growing number of culprits are showing blatant disregard for conserving paua stocks for future generations.
He says the ministry has been engaging with schools and local iwi to help educate people about how much paua each person is allowed a day.
The ministry quota limit is 10 paua per person per day, and each paua must be at least 125 millimetres long.