Longfin eels – PCE calls for commercial fishing moratorium

eelParliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright has launched a new report, On a pathway to extinction? An investigation into the status and management of the longfin eel.

Commercial fishing of native freshwater eels is currently permitted under the quota management system, despite mounting concerns that the iconic endemic longfin eel may be headed for extinction. Fisheries scientists have highlighted the exceptional complexities involved in managing a species that lives for nearly a century and breeds only once at the end of its life.

The fishery is managed by the Ministry of Primary Industries, while the Department of Conservation, Ministry for the Environment and local councils all have responsibilities for protecting eels in different contexts.

The PCE’s report calls for:

  • Suspension of the commercial catch of longfin eels until stocks are shown to have recovered
  • Increased protection for longfin eels and other threatened migratory fish
  • A fully-independent expert peer review panel to reassess the science, using the full range of information available on longfin eel population status

A copy of the complete report is available on the PCE’s website.

The Science Media Centre has rounded up commentary from freshwater and fisheries experts in reaction to the PCE’s recommendations.

Comments from experts contacted by the SMC (PDF)


Click below to hear a recording of the online media briefing launching the report.


Freshwater eel (tuna) information resource – NIWA
Eel facts – Department of Conservation
Sustainable management of longfin eels – Ministry of Primary Industries
Recreational fisheries  – NZ shortfin and longfin eels – Ministry of Primary Industries
Manaaki Tuna – Longfin eel interest group calling for moratorium