Fisheries Infosite

Short-finned eel Waikato/Poverty Bay (SFE21)
Maori name
Scientific name
Anguilla australis, A. reinhardtii

Physical characteristics

There are two species of Freshwater Eel in New Zealand, the Shortfin eel and the Longfin eel. The Shortfin is greenish bronze on top with a silver belly. Male and female Shortfin eels have an average length of 40-50 cm and 50-80 cm respectively. .

Life cycle

Shortfin eels have a maximum age of 60 years and reach maturity at 19 years. It is thought that both types spawn only once after a migration from freshwater to the ocean then die..


Freshwater Eels are found throughout New Zealand waters. Shortfin eels live in lowland lakes and muddy rivers. Longfin eels live in stony rivers and high country lakes. Both spend the majority of their lives in freshwater and migrate to the ocean to spawn.

South Island freshwater eels is managed under the QMS as ANG. All catch and value information relating to this stock can be found on the ANG species page. North Island freshwater eels are managed under the QMS as LFE and SFE.(click here)

Key statistics
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 30/09/2025
2 Quota value and exports are calculated pro-rata to reported commercial catch for the 12 month period to 30/09/2025