Tuna - recreational fisheries

The majority of New Zealanders are able to recall a story about catching eels when they were children, to eat from the camp fire or enter into the local pig hunting competition.

We don't know how many eels are being recreationally harvested across New Zealand. In 1994 a daily bag limit of six eels was introduced throughout New Zealand for recreational fishers. A variety of fishing methods can be used including rod and line, but only one fyke net per person is permitted. The mesh size of the nets is regulated for recreational fishing, with fyke nets and hīnaki having a minimum mesh size of 12 mm.

Although no maximum size limit currently applies to the recreational sector, the Ministry of Fisheries recommends that shortfin eels greater than 60 cm in length and longfins greater than 75 cm in length are returned to the water unharmed if they are not being taken for food.

Unfortunately, large eels (which are the females) are becoming rarer in our waterways. If you are having a competition where you usually get the kids involved by going eeling please return them to the water unharmed. Alternatively, why not change to a pest fish like koi carp, rudd or catfish instead? These are all species our unique indigenous fish fauna would love to see the back of!

References and further reading

Department of Conservation. (2010). http://www.doc.govt.nz/conservation/threats-and-impacts/animal-pests/animal-pests-a-z/fish/. Department of Conservation. Accessed June 2010.

Ministry of Fisheries (2008). New Zealand shortfin and longfin eels. Information for recreational fishers. October 2008. 2 p. http://www.fish.govt.nz/NR/rdonlyres/44C0EC9B-2966-4858-B27F-5885B2B1DE49/0/62072Eelbrochure.pdf

Ministry of Fisheries (2009). New Zealand longfin eel. June 2009. 2 p. http://www.fish.govt.nz/NR/rdonlyres/1F71900A-8F98-426A-ADF7-B9572BEEC507/0/Eelfactsheet.pdf

Ministry of Fisheries (2009). Protecting our eels. The Bite. June 2009. Pp. 6-9. http://www.fish.govt.nz/NR/rdonlyres/BAD46EA4-7447-48A5-955A-66FF94FA5764/0/TheBite_ProtectingourEels.pdf 

Other links

Tamariki from Moerewa School helping out with a tuna survey at Tiria Falls in the Taumārere River catchment. Credit: Norma Cooper
Kimberley Maxwell setting a hīnaki in her secret fishing spot. Credit: NIWA.
Setting a fyke net overnight in the Punakitere River. Credit: Wakaiti Dalton
Research subject: Maori