Paua grow larger in the cool South Island waters than they do in the warmer north. Consequently, most wild paua are harvested from the South, Chatham and Stewart Islands and from the North Island’s southern coast.

New Zealand’s paua fishery is managed by strict quotas, which allow only a set amount of paua to be taken commercially each year. The Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) for each Quota Management Area (QMA) is monitored by the Ministry of Fisheries and periodically (depending on the perceived stock status) stock assessments are carried out to determine the sustainability of the paua resource. If there is concern the TACC is reduced and over the last 5 years a number of fisheries have had the commercial catch reduced to allow the rebuilding of stocks. The commercial landing of paua have reduced from 1267 tonnes in 1986/87 to 1056 tonnes in 2004/5.

In addition, restrictions on size and harvesting method also apply to wild paua: they must have a minimum shell length of 12.5cm and must only be harvested by free-diving (the use of underwater breathing apparatus is not permitted).