A marine scientist says a national stocktake of sea cucumber needs to be carried out.
A few Maori organisations have a strong interest in the species, growing their own in an attempt to supply Chinese markets.
The Ministry of Primary Industries recognises that the animal is sought-after overseas, and says the New Zealand stocks show the potential to become a high value product.
Leonardo Zamora has studied sea cucumber at the University of Auckland's Leigh Marine Laboratory.
He says an estimate of stocks is needed, and questions whether the fisheries are making the most of what could be captured from the ocean floor.
Dr Zamora says there has not been a good assessment of how many sea cucumbers are available.