Key Points:

New Zealand's fisheries - worth $1.2 billion a year - have been rebuilding for the past 20 years, says the Fisheries Ministry.

Ministry chief executive Dr John Glaister said yesterday the problem of over-fishing was realised by New Zealand in the 1980s.

It introduced the quota management system which set sustainable catch levels for fisheries.

New Zealand waters have 8000 species of aquatic life, of which 130 are fished commercially. Of those, 94 are under the quota management system.

Dr Glaister said the fisheries were in better shape today than 20 years ago. In 2001, New Zealand closed 19 deep-water seamount areas to all trawling. Seafood Industry Council chief executive Owen Symmans said New Zealand members were committed to responsible fishing practices, adding that fisheries would remain sustainable and managed well for future generations.

However, Forest and Bird Protection Society advocate Kevin Hackwell said: "In the 20 years since the quota management system we have watched the collapse of several of the orange roughy stocks and the hoki fishery catch collapse by 60 per cent from 2001 to 2005.

"They are our greatest income earners and both have been abysmally managed."