Separation of South Island eel stocks

  • Nathan Guy
Primary Industries

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced changes to quota management for eels in the South Island which will see the current single stock split into two – longfin and shortfin eels.

“Longfin eels are more vulnerable to environmental and other factors, compared to shortfin eels. Therefore it’s important to manage the two species as separate stocks with their own catch limits and sustainability settings,” says Mr Guy. 

“It means we can take into account the different characteristics and value of each species when setting limits, and take a more precautionary approach to longfin eels which are more vulnerable. It is also consistent with how eels are managed in the North Island and the Chathams.”  

The change will separate the currently combined South Island freshwater eel stocks (ANG 11 – 16), creating individual stocks for the shortfin (SFE 11 – 16) and longfin (LFE 11 – 16) species.

The separation is part of the Minister’s package of measures in 2014 to help ensure the longfin eels’ survival for future generations. This package was based around a review by an independent panel of international scientific experts, and a 2013 report by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

“The independent panel reviewed all of the information on the fishery and concluded that while there was a trend of decline from the early 1990s to the late 2000s, there has been a relatively stable, and in some cases increasing abundance in recent years.

“This can largely be attributed to the reduced catches and responsible fishing practices that came with the introduction of eels into the quota management system starting in 2000.”

New catch limits and allowances will now be considered as part of the October 2016 sustainability review for New Zealand fisheries. A four week public consultation period on the new catch limits and allowances will soon begin.

More information on the changes to the quota management areas for South Island eels and the consultation document on catch limits and allowances can be found on the Ministry for Primary Industries website