The Eel Enhancement Company represents the interests of North Island eel quota owners. Quota owners include individuals, private companies and Iwi entities.
The eel fishery extends from the mountains to the estuaries traversing a multitude of land forms, land use and ownership. Unlike ocean fisheries, onshore fisheries such as this are subject to influences from mankind, many of these being adverse to eels and aquatic life in general. These adversities include such matters as:
Water in terms of quantity, quality, continuity and velocity.
Pollution of a nature that may either impact eel directly or eel food sources
Water control structures, particularly hydro-electric generation and flood pumps.
Flood control constraints such as stop banks and channelisation.
Removal of aquatic cover especially willows.
Eel recruitment restrictions.
To address these issues we engage with Regional and district councils, Central government and various industries to support constructive management practices and oppose those that are not.
We take a very strong interest in hydro-electric generation operations. We also liaise with like-minded organisations such as Fish and Game.
Working with MPI we assist with TACC setting by providing data and in field expertise and also developing regulation as required to ensure robust fish stocks.
In conjunction with Tainui, EECo carries out Elver transfers at Karapiro dam into the upper Hydro lakes as far as Lake Ohakuri. These lakes now contribute about 25 tonne to the SFE 21 catch. (Note, practically all of this fishing is confined to the lakes)
On a wider scale, EECo promotes, and provides advice on waterway management practices that are supportive of a healthy aquatic system that will support a healthy well stocked and productive eel fishery. A fishery that will provide for customary fishing, and employment in a profitable commercial enterprise.
Since the inception of the QMS we have managed to greatly improve the size structure of eel within commercially fished waters at the same time as greatly reducing the area of commercially fished water.
Thus it is reasonable to assume that eels stocks generally have improved greatly in terms of volume and size throughout the fishery.
Elver recruitment has been steadily trending upward.
While these are very positive achievements, they must be seen in the light of the changing and increasing demands for water and the gradually increasing restrictions to fishery access. The proposed closure of the Firth of Thames to commercial fishing is very serious for QMA 21 as the Firth supplies up to 40 tonne of SFE. Since there is little if any recreational eel fishing in the area, it would seem a rather pointless proposal. A loss of that magnitude to the industry would very serious.