Fisheries Infosite

Fishery - Eels


Key statistics
Recreational significance High
Customary significance High
Environmental importance High
Reported commercial catch1 (tonnes)
Quota value estimate2 (NZ$m)
Exports estimate2 (NZ$m)
1 Reported commercial catch is calculated for the 12 month period to 30/09/2020
2 Quota value and exports are calculated pro-rata to reported commercial catch for the 12 month period to 30/09/2020
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Eels in bucketFreshwater eels are an important part of the freshwater ecosystem in New Zealand.

The longfin eel is only found in New Zealand, while the shortfin is found throughout New Zealand, southeastern Australia, and the Pacific Islands.  Eels are highly valued and fished for customary Maori, recreational, or commercial purposes.

Recent initiatives have sought to provide a better basis for managing the sustainable use of shortfin and longfin eel resources.  Commercial catch limits have been introduced across the country between 2000 and 2004.  These limits have reduced the commercial harvest of both shortfin and longfin eels, and the eel fishing industry rationalised the number of fishers and processors.

A further reduction in commercial catch limits in 2007 was made to provide further confidence that the status of shortfin and longfin stocks would improve over the medium term.  Some further changes to management settings are expected over time.

Dams, drainage and other non-fishing activities have had a significant impact on eel populations, perhaps more than fishing.  These activities are managed under the Resource Management Act 1991.


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