The role of New Zealand government officials in lobbying to have a fishing vessel taken off an international black list is being questioned.
The Talley's owned Amaltal Apollo, which is alleged to have illegally fished in a protected part of the Tasman Sea, is the first New Zealand vessel placed on the list which is normally reserved for rogue operators.
The lobbying took place last week at a meeting in the Hague of the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation, the body in charge of regulating fishing in the high seas.
It was by Primary Industries and Foreign Affairs officials.
As a result, instead of a decision being made this year on the vessel gaining a permanent place on the black list, one would made next year instead.
Fisheries management expert Cath Wallace said government officials were pressured to push for the delay by fishing industry representatives at the meeting including one who worked for Talley's.
"And to the disgust of many of the international observers and to the great disquiet of the European Union ... New Zealand managed to get the Talley's vessel taken off the IUU list."
Harmful to 'the most incredibly important ecological element'
She said the rationale used by officials that the skipper and Talley's would soon face 14 charges each in court of illegal fishing and, therefore, did not need to be on the list, was not on.
"The company should be on the IUU list but they're not and this is being done at New Zealand's behest even though we haven't actually had the court case."
The environmentalist said the naming and shaming aspect of being included on the list was an important deterrent from trawling in protected areas.
"These creatures that live on the sea floor, sponges and hydroids and all sorts of things are just the most incredibly important ecological element because they provide habitat for fish and lots of other things, and many of them are hundreds of years old."
Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash also declined to comment but in a statement explained why government officials pushed for Talley's to remain off the list.
He said it was felt a domestic prosecution should be allowed to run its course before a decision was made about an international response.
NZ's 'world class fisheries management system...completely untrue'
Greenpeace director Russel Norman said having a New Zealand vessel on the black list was a bad look.
"New Zealand tells the world that it has a world class fisheries management system. We know this is obviously completely untrue given all of the exposés that have come out about fish dumping and all the rest of it.
"This simply adds to the story that there are big problems in the fisheries management system when one of our major companies ends up on the draft black list of rogue vessels."
The Talley's subsidiary that owns the vessel declined to be interviewed siting the upcoming court case.
But in a long statement it blamed the Primary Industries observer on board the Amaltal Apollo at the time for giving its skipper the wrong information about where he was allowed to fish.
It said the company had introduced improvements to ensure there was no repeat and said it expected Primary Industries to improve its processes as well.
The court case will have its first hearing in the Nelson District Court late next month.