Two men are likely to face court action after being found in possession of 3,526 pipi taken from the Ohiwa Harbour near Kutarere in the Bay of Plenty.
Ministry for Primary Industries spokesman Richard Ratapu says the men were caught with the illegal take during a routine inspection.
"These men's actions are extremely disappointing. They have shown a complete disregard for the daily legal pipi recreational allowance of 150 per person and have given no thought to the sustainability of Ohiwa Harbour's pipi stocks. A quarter of the pipi were far too small to even consider eating."
He says, "What is also concerning is that the men are local. We would expect them to have a greater knowledge of the law, as well as the impact their actions could have on the ability of other pipi gatherers to collect their own legal take."
Officers seized the pipi and returned them immediately to the sea.
Ratapu says the Ohiwa pipi beds are an important source of kaimoana to the local community and visitors alike, and it is essential everybody plays their part in protecting it for future generations.
He says fishery officers closely monitor the area, and anyone taking more than their daily limit can expect to be held to account.
To report any suspicious fishing activity, please call the MPI 0800 4 POACHER line, 0800 447 6224.