Commercial fishing banned on Motu, Mohaka and Whanganui rivers to protect eels
11 January 2005
A ban on all commercial fishing comes into force in the entire Motu and Mohaka River catchments, and much of the Whanganui River catchment, effective from Thursday, 13 January, 2005.
This follows a decision last July by the Minister of Fisheries on recommendations from the Ministry of Fisheries that controls needed to be applied to the North Island eel fishery.
The purpose of the commercial fishing ban in these areas is to allow freshwater eels to undertake their migration to the Pacific Ocean for breeding purposes without being caught at the beginning of, or prior to the onset of their journey.
As eels only breed once at the end of their long life, it is important that the number of adult eels reaching sexual maturity and then migrating to sea to breed is sufficient to maintain the population. The commercial fishing area closures complement the introduction of overall catch limits for the North Island eel fishery from October 2004.
With the catch limits introduced, commercial eel fishers are not able to take as many eels as previously, and more eels are likely to reach an older age as a result.
However, as large eels are particularly vulnerable to capture, the closure of catchments to commercial fishing will ensure that some populations of eels are not subject to significant fishing pressure, and eels will be able to live to their natural age.
Some further closures are likely in the future, following an assessment of which areas are likely to best contribute to the numbers of migrating adult eels.
Other area closures for commercial fishing coming into force on 13 January, 2005, but for the purpose of recognising and providing for customary Maori fisheries of special significance, include Taharoa lakes (Kawhia); Whakaki Lagoon (Wairoa); Lake Poukawa (Te Hauke); and Pencarrow Lakes (Wellington).