Foreign merchant vessels are being warned that a zero-tolerance approach will be taken to crew members who exploit New Zealand's fisheries.
The Ministry for Primary Industries said in the most recent incident, four crew members of a trawler passing Bluff were found with 91 black foot pāua, 82 of which were undersized, and 42 yellow foot pāua, of which 26 were undersized.
MPI spokesperson Garreth Jay said in the week earlier, two other crew members from the same boat, including the captain, had received warning notices for having taken undersized pāua, and had been provided pamphlets and pāua gauges so they could obey the rules.
Mr Jay said after the second incident, the four crew members involved in the most recent incident each received infringement fines of $1000.
The entire catch had been seized and MPI officials had returned all the pāua to the water, he said.
The offending was unacceptable and would not be tolerated, Mr Jay said.
"It was extremely disappointing that the message didn't seem to have gotten through to others on the vessel. Fishery officers won't treat foreign crew any differently to local offenders. The rules are the rules and they exist for very good reason," he said.
Mr Jay said there have been several instances over recent years where visiting crew are caught in breach of pāua regulations despite there being notices at the local wharf departure gates, and despite crew sometimes being told of the rules by shipping agents or MPI biosecurity staff.
"The rules are set to ensure the sustainability of New Zealand's precious fishery resources. We'll continue to take this stance against anyone who negatively impacts the sustainability of the New Zealand fishery," he said.