Police and Ministry of Fisheries officers commenced a series of raids at dawn on 13 March. Poachers plunder $20 million of paua and rock lobster each year. Annually up to 100 tonnes of rock lobster was sent to restaurants and fish shops in New Zealand cities.
The paua – up to 300 tonnes a year – was flown to Asia on commercial airline flights. Seized during the raids were 25 vehicles, 11 recreational boats, 1000 rock lobeters and 500kg of paua meat.
Thirty-nine people faced charges, and the ministry indicated there could be 60 more arrests. Those convicted could be jailed for five years under anti-poaching laws introduced in October 2001.