These New Zealand snapper, sold in United States supermarkets and around the world, look tiny but may just be legal - the minimum size for commercial fishers targeting snapper is just 25cm.

"We love to see our products on overseas shelves but this was pretty disappointing, particularly when supplies are being overfished," says Christine Orum, who took the photo at a Costco grocery in Los Angeles last week, using her iPhone as a yardstick.

The high number of juveniles caught by the commercial snapper fleet is being challenged as the Ministry of Primary Industries ponders its response to a troubling stock assessment in Snapper 1, the country's biggest inshore fishery.

Recreational fishers say enough juveniles need to be left in the water to maintain population balance and a healthy fishery - also ensuring there are bigger fish to fry.


But bottom trawling and Danish seine nets responsible for two-thirds of the commercial snapper catch are indiscriminate in what is caught.