Maersk, one of the world's largest shipping companies, announced that it will no longer carry frozen orange roughy fish on its ships.
The shipping line's New Zealand manager, Julian Bevis, said the decision had been made in line with the company's sustainability policy.
Owen Symmans, chief executive of the Seafood Industry Council, said Maersk had turned its back on New Zealand's fifth-largest exporter.
The New Zealand office of Greenpeace described the decision as "earth shattering" and demanded an end to the trade in bluefin tuna.
Greenpeace New Zealand is campaigning against what it describes as "Fonterra's climate crimes". Fonterra is New Zealand's largest exporter of milk products and, at this stage, it is not clear if it too will be affected by Maersk's sustainability policy.
Orange roughy exports were worth $51 million last year. Gavin Lockwood, deputy chief executive of the Fisheries Ministry, said New Zealand fish stocks were sustainably managed.
Daniel Silva, secretary of the New Zealand Importers Institute, called today for a world-wide boycott of Maersk. "Maersk are not right to destroy a legitimate trade just to make their Danish owners feel morally superior. What comes next, a ban on carrying Palmolive soap to save the orang-utan, or an exit from New Zealand to punish our dairy farmers for their 'climate crimes'?", he asked.
Silva said that importers and exporters need to make it very clear to companies like Maersk that their livelihoods are not to be traded for cheap publicity stunts like this. He urged all Importers Institute members and their suppliers and clients throughout the world to boycott Maersk, until the company reverses this decision and apologises.
Update: Maersk have reversed their decision, but are yet to aplogise.