The Ministry of Fisheries says it has unravelled a web of deceit after two companies admitted fraud over catches worth almost $2.5 million.
Aurora Fisheries and a Japanese company, Kanai Fishing, along with four Japanese nationals, appeared in the Wellington District Court on Wednesday on a total of 54 charges involving what is known as 'fish trucking'.
'Fish trucking' is catching fish in one quota management area and misreporting it as coming from another, effectively stealing fish.
In this case, it involved more than 480 tonnes of Ling and over 110 tonnes of silver Warehou, caught off the southern coast of the South Island between 2007 - 2008.
The companies will be sentenced within the next couple of months.
The ministry says they were caught because their fishing reports simply did not stack up.
Fisheries Minister Phil Heatley says the Government will not tolerate illegal fishing in New Zealand waters.