The lawyer representing the former crew of two forfeited South Korean fishing trawlers says the vessels should be sold to cover millions of dollars unpaid wages.
The vessels are owned by the Sajo Oyang Corporation, which has applied in the Christchurch District Court to have them permanently released from forfeiture.
The lawyer for the 26 former crew members, Karen Harding, says the company owes them up to $5 million-dollars in unpaid wages between 2007 and 2012.
The Oyang 77 and Oyang 75, were forfeited in relation to fisheries offences.
Ms Harding opposed their return, saying they should be sold to recover the outstanding wages and the cost of prosecution.
She said the crew members were treated like slaves at sea.