7 Aug 2014

Govt doesn't stop trapping of native eels

8:40 pm on 7 August 2014

The Government says that it's stepping up measures to protect the threatened longfin eel (tuna), which is is the largest freshwater eel in the world and is a taonga to Maori.

The sculpture ‘Tuna’ by Bing Dawe.

The sculpture ‘Tuna’ by Bing Dawe. Photo: SUPPLIED

A report by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has recommended the commercial catch of longfin eels be suspended to prevent its extinction.

The proposed changes follow a review by an independent panel of international scientific experts, but the recommended closure has not been implemented.

The Primary Industries Minister said longfin eel catch limits would be reviewed, abundance target levels introduced and a requirement for better information from the commercial sector.

Nathan Guy said at this stage the scientific information did not support a closure of the fishery.

Review welcomed

A spokesperson for Hawke's Bay's Kohupatiki Marae and the kaitiaki [guardian] of awa [rivers] in the rohe including the Ngaruroro, Tukituki and Tutaekuri rivers, supported the lowering of catch limits.

Tom McGuire said there was a growing shortage and disagreed with the Government's statement that scientific evidence showed the population was currently stable.

Mr McGuire said the commercial sector should be stopped from catching longfin eels, but Maori should still be able to fish as they have always successfully maintained its population.

The Environment Commissioner, Dr Jan Wright, welcomed the Government's plan to review the catch limits.

Children have marched on Parliament seeking protection for the native eel.

Children have marched on Parliament seeking protection for the native eel. Photo: RNZ