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Eels glide into QMS with eye to improving fishery

05 August, 2004
Media Statement

Eels glide into QMS with eye to improving fishery

The North Island eel fishery will be introduced into New Zealand's world recognised Quota Management System (QMS) from 01 October, Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope announced today.

Mr Benson-Pope says introducing North Island eels into the QMS was just one of the steps aimed at improving the fishery, which included the introduction of new catch limits and other management controls. South Island eels were introduced into the QMS in 2000.

The North Island eel fishery is highly valued by customary Maori, recreational and commercial fishers. The two key species are the shortfin eel, found throughout mainly lowland waters of New Zealand, parts of Australia and the Pacific Islands, and the longfin eel, found typically in higher altitude waters of New Zealand.

The overall Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) for the North Island shortfin eel is to be set 8.25 percent less than the amount commercially taken in recent years. The overall TACC for the longfin will be set 17.8 percent less than was taken in recent years.

"After consultation with fishery interests, I have decided on a management strategy designed to improve the size range and abundance of eels found within the North Island over the medium-term," Mr Benson-Pope said.

As well as catch limits, other controls included:
- Prohibiting commercial fishing in the Motu, Mohaka, and much of the Whanganui River catchments to ensure adequate escapement of adult eels in breeding condition
- Prohibiting commercial fishing in areas recognised as important customary fishing sites. These included:
- The interconnected Lakes Taharoa, Numiti, Rotoroa and Lake Harihari, south of Kawhia
- Whakaki Lagoon, east of Wairoa
- Lake Poukawa, Te Hauke, inland from Hastings
- Lake Kohangapiripiri and Lake Kohangatera (Pencarroe Lakes) and their respective tributaries, Wellington.
- Removing net mesh size restrictions to improve catch quality
- Amending reporting regulations to enable commercial fishers to report eel catch appropriately under the QMS.

ENDS

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