Eleven people have been caught poaching seafood from a protected Gisborne reserve.
Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) fishery officers caught six adults and five children trawling for undersized crayfish and kina, including one person who had previously been caught poaching from the same reserve.
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"One of the people that were apprehended, mentioned he had been caught poaching from the reserve, in his words, approximately 11 years ago," MPI representative Adam Plumstead said.
Rules around Te Tapuae o Rongokaka Marine Reserve ban crayfish diving to protect biodiversity in the area.
Mr Plumstead said catching poachers in the act is disappointing.
"We have these reserves around the country that can basically protect marine life in a state that's untouched for future generations to come," he said.
Twenty-two of the 37 crayfish caught were undersize, and Mr Plumstead said it seems some people aren't heeding calls to fish responsibly.
"The attitude of these people just really goes to show for some people, the message isn't getting through and they feel that they're above the law," he said.
The offenders will be dealt with through the courts.