A group of people caught allegedly poaching crayfish and kina from a Gisborne Marine reserve have had vehicles seized and will face court charges. The Department of Conservation (DoC) says the illegal haul is unacceptable.
Te Tapuwae o Rongokako reserve, where marine life is to be enjoyed but not taken.
Gisborne DoC Biodiversity Ranger Jamie Quirk says, "personally I don't see this as poaching I see this as theft."
Sixteen people were likely to appear in court for allegedly taking 621 kina and 55 crayfish across a three day period, during a two-week sting last month.
Quirk says, "It is before the courts but there were actually a number of incidents; three of them were at night and a number of them were during the day.
“The ones during the day were really disappointing because the people have actually gone through school groups and had people tell them that it was a marine reserve on top of all the signage and they just choose to ignore it."
The Marine Reserve, established by Ngāti Konohi and Doc nearly 20 years ago, protects more than 2400ha of coastline.
"There are very few marine reserves along this coast. There is lots of ocean that people can go diving to gather kaimoana [seafood] and it's just a lot of laziness and people being tired and pushing the extremes."
A Ngāti Konohi spokesperson did not want to comment.