New Zealand: Maximum size limit for eels now nationwide –

New Zealand: Maximum size limit for eels now nationwide Published:  28 March, 2007

Jim Anderton

“FURTHER measures to improve the sustainability of freshwater eels are being introduced from 1 April 2007,” New Zealand Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton announced yesterday.

A maximum size limit of four kilograms will apply to commercial fishers taking eels from the North Island and Chatham Island. The same maximum size limit has already been introduced for eels taken by commercial fishers in the South Island.

“The regulation will protect large eels due to make their journey to the sea for breeding. This measure should allow more eels to breed and keep the stock sustainable,” Jim Anderton said.

“People fishing for customary and recreational purposes will still be allowed to take eels over 4kg, but I’m keen to hear if these fishers think the maximum size limit should also apply to them in the future,” he added.

Eels are long-lived and breed only once, at the end of their lives, far away in the south-west Pacific Ocean, and they die shortly after. Their eggs and hatchlings drift back to New Zealand on ocean currents.

“This one-off breeding biology of large eels means there needs to be a range of measures for them to have a chance of making it to sea to spawn,” explained Mr Anderton.

“Eels in the North Island were introduced into the Quota Management System (QMS) in October 2004, following the introduction of South Island and Chatham Island eel stocks into the QMS in earlier years. And the overall annual catch of eels taken is now limited in order to ensure sustainable use of the fishery into the future.”

The intention of the regulation is to improve the availability of appropriately sized eels for customary and amateur fishing purposes, and to recognise the role that eels play in the broader relationships with other species.

“Eels have long been an important food source for Maori and, for inland kids, eeling is often their first fishing experience. For this to continue, and for there to be a healthy commercial fishery, we have to do all we can to manage eels sustainably. is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.