A fishy stunt in Parliament by Labour leader David Shearer appeared to backfire after it spawned a round of dead fish jokes.

Mr Shearer whipped out two snapper in the House during Question Time yesterday, one noticeably smaller than the other.

He asked Prime Minister John Key: "Does he think it's fair that a commercial fisher can catch a snapper as small as 25cm but a recreational fisher has to go to 36cm?"

Mr Key said parading dead fish in Parliament showed Mr Shearer's PR team was also "dead" before demanding that he table the larger snapper so he could eat it for dinner.


As Mr Shearer held up the two fish, Justice Minister Judith Collins shot back on Twitter: "Which of the 3 is likely to last longest?" while Act leader John Banks claimed he was "floundering over snapper".

It was a brief respite for the Government, which has faced intense public pressure on the "Snapper 1" management proposals.

Mr Key said Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy had not briefed him or the Cabinet before putting out the changes for public consultation, but said "it was okay that he didn't".

Mr Shearer's fish, which he had brought down from Auckland in his carry-on luggage, were placed back in a bag and ushered out of the debating chamber by deputy leader Grant Robertson.