All commercial eel fishing must be authorised by a fishing permit.
Commercial catches of shortfin and longfin eels are subject to the Quota Management System limiting the total allowable commercial catch in each of
four discreet areas in the North Island
- Some quota owners shelve their annual catch entitlement (ACE) which means the effective TACC is temporarily lower
Minimum size allowed to be landed: 220g
Maximum size allowed to be landed: 4kg
Eels are caught alive and permitted under the Fisheries Act to be placed back in the water but these returned eels must be reported.
DoC, MPI, MFE and a number of Councils administer a network of reserves which restrict commercial, customary or recreational catches of eels. These reserves include National Parks.
At least two escapement tubes (blue plastic conduit) that are a greater internal diameter than 31mms, must be fitted in each fyke net. Some fishers are also placing escape tubes in holding bags. A 31mm tube allows eels under approx. 300g to escape the net.
Commercial fyke nets must be identifiable to the fisher by name and their permit number
Commercial eel catches must be landed to a licensed fish receiver (LFR).
MPI have developed a network of reserved waters to protect large females in waters with direct access to the sea. This ensures a protected stock available for the spawning migration (heke).
Rigorous catch reporting obligations include effort (number of nets set), estimated catch on the day and precise catch landed. There is currently a reporting anomaly which is artificially skewing cpue down. This will be rectified when the 4kg+ eels returned to the water are included in the MPI catch forms.
To prevent turbine mortality EECO have lobbied MPI to be allowed to carry 4kg+ eels caught in hydro lakes below the lowest dam.