Stolen Northland crayfish linked to methamphetamine trade

Newshub has discovered the theft of large quantities of crayfish in Northland could be connected to the booming methamphetamine trade.

New Zealand First says the seafood delicacy is being traded with gangs in Auckland in exchange for P.

The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) agrees organised crime is deeply involved in the illegal seafood market.

Skipper Adam Kellian says his catch off the Northland coast is often slashed open by thieves.

"You work so hard. It's not easy out here, and to have all your catch you've been saving up to try and make some money disappear from under your feet when you go to unload is heartbreaking."

He's not talking about just one or two crayfish being pinched - losses can reach two hundred kilograms a season.

At about $45 a kilogram, that's nearly $10,000 worth.

"It's the last straw to break the camel's back at the moment," Mr Kellian says.

Police don't think it's a big problem, but New Zealand First MP Shane Jones says he's been told gangs are involved.

"There's a new type of currency in this gang-related malevolent P trade. It's the stealing of commercial quantities of crayfish," The Whangarei candidate says.

Specifically, Mr Jones points the finger at the Head Hunters.

"But unless we call a spade a spade and get the cops to put the heel of the law on their throat and drive them out of town, not much can change."

MPI says it has heard talk of crayfish being targeted by gangs, and confirmed it is already a problem with paua.

When asked whether MPI was aware of P being traded for Paua, Mr Orr replied: "Yes, yes we are".

"Fisheries is just another commodity for gang activity it can be drugs, stolen property," MPI compliance investigations manager Gary Orr says.

It's not just loss of money crippling Mr Kellian - the stolen crayfish come off his quota.

Fishers say there's little incentive to report every time theft occurs as any amount that's stolen is then taken off their total allowable catch. So instead they end up being penalised.

Mr Kellian says he doesn't know who's doing it - but the stealing, cost of new camera monitoring gear and the fact they're catching so little means his nine-year career on the water is all but over.

"I'll try and sell out and do something different. This will be the end of it for me."

If you witness poaching or want to report illegal fishing activity, please call MPI on 0800 4 POACHER. Or email

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