Three people have been ordered to pay more than $4000 collectively after they were caught taking shellfish from an off limits Auckland beach.
Eastern Beach near Howick has been closed off from kai moana gatherers in an effort to restore the area's shellfish population.
According to Ministry of Primary Industries, there's signs along the beach front clearly indicating the protection zone.
Jonathan Farrow-Russell, 35, Milika Tulikihakau, 22, and Connie Carter Pooi, 24, were caught red handed by Honorary Fisheries Officers on March 13 last year to inspect their catch.
The trio appeared in the Manakau Magistrate's Court yesterday.
Tulikihakau and Carter Pooi were holding 712 cockles in their possession. The pair were each fined $1500 plus $130 in court fees.
Farrow-Russell was found carrying 279 cockles and was fined $1000 with an additional $130 in court costs.
The group claimed they weren't aware of any protections in place and hadn't seen the 18 signs set up by MPI.
Fisheries Compliance Manager Andre Espinoza says taking shellfish from the area, especially in large quantities, has the "potential to seriously impact" the marine environment.