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Threat to the existence of eels requires urgent attention

Threat to the existence of eels requires urgent attention

The Maori Party is calling for urgent action to protect long finned eels, after the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr. Jan Wright appealed to the Environment and Local Government select committee for further action to protect this species from extinction.

Tamaki Makaurau MP, Dr. Pita Sharples said “eels have customary and cultural significance to tangata whenua. Not only are they a delicacy that marae, hapu and whanau use to provide manaakitanga to guests; they are also revered for their status as kaitiaki, atua and taniwha which protect our waterways and our people.”

“In April this year, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment released a report highlighting that long finned eels, or tuna were close to extinction, and called for urgent action in order to ensure their sustainability as a population.”

“This is alarming, not only because of their cultural significance to tangata whenua, but because their presence in our waterways has always been an indication of the health of our ecosystems.”

Dr Sharples said “there are steps that can be taken in order to replenish the long finned eel population, such as addressing the barriers to migration through our waterways, through dams and turbines which are hazardous to eels; and restoring the health of our waters. We are calling also to demonstrate the value of tangata whenua solutions such as putting a rahui on commercial fishing of eels.”

“Yesterday the Commissioner appeared before the Select Committee and called for urgent and immediate steps to be undertaken in order to preserve the population that we currently have. We support her call for a rahui to be put in place until such time as the panel of fishery experts is established in order to investigate next steps.”

“We want to see tangata whenua representation on that committee, as we believe our traditional knowledge on managing fisheries can inform sustainable regeneration of the long finned eel population,” said Dr. Sharples

“There is a real threat that if we wait too long for action, the long finned eel population will become extinct. That not only has consequences for our ecosystem, but for our cultural practices and norms. We need to act now in order to save our eels, but we also want to see tangata whenua being a part of that solution.”


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