Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy and Minister of Conservation Dr Nick Smith have today announced an interim response to the report of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment on longfin eels.
“The longfin eel is the largest freshwater eel in the world, has a fascinating lifecycle and is found only in New Zealand. We are committed to ensuring its long-term survival and are taking seriously the concerns raised in the Parliamentary Commission for the Environment’s report,” the Ministers say.
“Decisions on the future management of the longfin eel need to be based on the best scientific advice available. That is why we are implementing the Commisioner’s recommendation to establish an independent, international peer review panel to reassess the data on longfin eels,” says Mr Guy.
“Any decision on whether to suspend commercial fishing of the species will be made once we receive the final assessment from the independent panel in November this year.
“In the meantime, the Ministry for Primary Industries will immediately begin discussions with South Island iwi and other eel quota-holders to split the South Island quota into shortfin and longfin. This will allow for better management of both species.
“The regulated size of fyke net escape tubes in the North Island will also be increased. This is an industry proposal which will reduce the catch of smaller eels.”
“The Department of Conservation will be undertaking legal and policy work to find the most appropriate means to increase the protection of the long fin eel, other migratory fish and their habitats as recommended by the Commissioner,” Dr Smith says.
“This is an interim response from the Government. We will be making further decisions once the independent review panel and DOC policy advice is completed. Eels are not as cute and cuddly as some of our unique birds but are part of the wildlife that helps define New Zealand.”