11 Jun 2012

Ministry confident longfin fishery sustainable

10:28 pm on 11 June 2012

Government officials say they are confident New Zealand's endemic longfin eel is being fished sustainably.

The longfin is classed by the Department of Conservation as a species in decline and at risk and a number of independent scientists fear it could be approaching extinction.

The Ministry for Primary Industries says about 140 tonnes of longfin a year are caught commercially under the fisheries quota management system with some ending up in pet food.

Deputy director-general Scott Gallagher says DoC's at-risk classification does not mean the long-fin is a threatened species.

He says that, on the basis of information the ministry and DoC has, he is confident of how the ministry is managing the resource.

Mr Gallager says the ministry monitors the numbers of young eels arriving in New Zealand waters annually, and collects information from the industry on the type, and weight of eels being caught and processed.

He says it polices eel fishing rules by occasional inspections at the point of capture and by checking processing plants, and few breaches have been detected.