A high-powered meeting to decide how to protect the Antarctic's Ross Sea gets underway in Australia tomorrow.
It is feared the unspoiled waters could be plundered by pirates if 25 countries cannot reach agreement.
It is the most pristine marine ecosystem on Earth, but the Green Party says New Zealand is failing to protect the Ross Sea because of our fishing interests.
"The New Zealand Government position is to draw a line around where the main fishing grounds are and say 'everywhere else where we don't exploit, everywhere else where we don't impact, we'll protect'," Gareth Hughes, Green Party MP, told TVNZ's Q A programme.
He was talking about the Government's decision to pull out of a joint proposal with the United States, instead going it alone, with what critics say is a weaker plan.
"It's going to be a mess, I fear," Hughes said.
"And the New Zealanders are acting as obstructionists, because we're out there simply to protect these narrow, small fishing interests, not to protect conservation."
But Labour MP Shane Jones believes we can do both - fish and protect.
"Just because the Kiwis decide or are made to stop fishing there, don't for a moment think that's going to stop the pirates of the world going down there and fishing," Jones said.
New Zealand's fishing industry rakes in about $20 million a year from the high-value toothfish in the Ross Sea.
Philanthropist Gareth Morgan says if we don't fish it, someone else will.
Morgan said New Zealand has played a huge role "in getting those nations like the Ukraine and Russia inside and Korea, inside the tent and doing it in a sustainable way."
Morgan believes those countries will gut the entire fishery within five years, if New Zealand does not play a part in keeping things under control.
Twenty-five nations meeting in Hobart from tomorrow must now decide how to protect and preserve the last untouched ocean, and the Ross Sea's future depends on them all reaching an agreement.