Fishery officials are investigating whether a slew of dead snapper which has washed up on Coromandel beaches is connected to similar occurrences about this time for the past two years.
Locals have reported thousands of dead fish strewn across the peninsula's west coast from about 1 January.
The Ministry for Primary Industries says it is unlikely that the fish died of natural causes - and were possibly illegally dumped.
Fisheries compliance manager Brendon Mikkelson wants to talk to any fishers who were in the area on 31 December or 1 January.
He says it is possible the event is related to previous suspected dumpings last year and in 2011.
Mr Mikkelson also warns people should be cautious about eating any snapper collected off the beach, as they may have been there for some time.