More than 600 kina and 50 crayfish were taken from a marine reserve north of Gisborne in an illegal haul, which will see 16 people likely to face court over the crime.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Department of Conservation (DOC) warn they will continue to take a zero tolerance approach towards people poaching from the Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve.
The operation in December saw an illegal haul of 621 kina and 55 crayfish, and saw a number of vehicles that were used in the alleged offence seized.
"There are absolutely no exceptions to the rules around taking sea life from marine reserves which are a protected environment for a very good reason," says MPI spokesman Adam Plumstead.
"The Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve protects over 2400 hectares of coastline and its marine life from any threats to its existence and when people intentionally disturb that, and take marine life from this area, they are destroying this very special habitat," he said.
The marine reserve, which is 16km north of Gisborne, was established in 1999 after years of hard work by Ngati Konohi and DOC.
DOC's East Coast District Manager, John Lucas, says the taking of marine life by some people is extremely disappointing.
"We will continue to work with MPI to closely monitor activity around the reserve to ensure those who act illegally will wear the consequences. We take a zero tolerance approach to all offending," Mr Lucas said.