Govt must act before longfin eels disappear

The Government must suspend the commercial catch of New Zealand's longfin eel, and accept the conclusion by Parliament's environment watchdog that the eel is on a path to extinction, the Green Party said today.

In her submission on the Government's catch limits for South Island eel fisheries, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment recommended that the commercial catch of longfin eels should be suspended until it is clear the species is recovering.

“The Government can take the simple step of suspending commercial fishing of native longfin eels, and ensure this unique creature has a shot at surviving," said Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage.

“Just as we stopped hunting and eating other threatened species such as kiwi and kakapo, we can stop commercial fishing of longfin eel.

“Fisheries Minister, Nathan Guy rejected the Commissioner’s recommendation back in 2013 to suspend the commercial catch of longfin eel, without presenting a compelling case for doing so. National is continuing to undermine its own goal to ‘improve the long-term sustainability of longfin eels’.

“Independent research by NIWA and the Parliamentary Commissioner three years ago showed that long finned eels were in a far more precarious position than the Ministry for Primary Industries claimed. The National government needs to act now to save the species.

“Under National, 142 species have moved closer to extinction, including the kea, the Antipodes wandering albatross, and the fresh-footed shearwater.

“Longfin eels are truly remarkable creatures. They are unique to Aotearoa and endure a perilous migration of over a thousand kilometres just to breed. The least we can do is protect them," said Ms Sage.

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