17 April 2013

Stop commercial fishing or longfin eels will perish – Environment Commissioner

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright has called for a moratorium on the commercial harvesting of New Zealand's longfin eel and for DOC to step up its protection of this iconic native species.

The call comes in Dr Wright's report on the status of the species which was released today and shows the longfin eel is on a slow path to extinction.

Dr Wright says the need for action is urgent.

"I am confident that the weight of evidence shows we need to act urgently to save this species.

"The longfin eel can live to more than a hundred years old and breeds once at the very end of its life, travelling thousands of kilometres into the Pacific to do so. This long slow lifecycle makes it very vulnerable.

"It is critical that we stop fishing longfin eels. It is not just fishing that is a problem, but stopping it is the only action that has immediate potential to reverse the decline of this extraordinary creature.

"I also have concerns about the management of the longfin, in particular the way the science is used, and have also recommended that this is changed.

"DOC also needs to play a more active role in protecting this iconic species and work with councils to ensure habitat and fish passage pressures are reduced."

Dr Wright's report, On a pathway to extinction? An investigation into the status and management of the longfin eel, is available here.