The body overseeing the fishing quota owned by Maori says there will be a time when iwi will own more trawlers.
Te Ohu Kaimoana, or the Maori Fisheries Trust, has presented its submission to the ministerial inquiry into foreign vessels that are chartered to catch kaimoana in New Zealand waters.
The hearing was set up to look into allegations about working conditions and wages aboard the boats.
Chief executive of Te Ohu Kaimoana Peter Douglas told the inquiry that foreign vessels make a valuable contribution to the iwi economy.
He says suggestions have been made that foreign charter vessels are keeping fishers in 'slave labour' conditions, with assertions that Maori interests are a major cause of the problem, but he says those allegations are denied by iwi.
Mr Douglas says it shouldn't be ruled out that tribes might boost their own trawling fleet.
He says he doesn't know if it is something iwi are currently considering, but there will come a time when Maori own more boats.