Fishing and Farming

Commercial eel fishing is not for the faint hearted. 

It’s physically hard and you can be uncomfortable and alone in some pretty forbidding environments. Without doubt, it’s dangerous:

  • Swift currents and rapids

  • Boats

  • 4wd’s in back country

  • Steep river banks

  • Heavy nets and heavy holding bags

  • floods

  • Mud & quicksand

  • Hypothermia if you go in the drink over winter

  • Overhanging branches and unseen fence wire just under flood water

  • Often poor communications – vhf or cell phone


But, also without doubt, eel fishers witness some spectacular sights and places. Most would reckon that their ‘office’ is much better than the sort found in Auckland or Manhattan.

 “My main problem is: I can’t think of a better job”

says a fisherman who, bored with his previous job, was sold on eeling over a few drinks at a Greymouth pub.  That was 37 years ago!   


That, having been said, the eel industry is in need of succession.  Management of the fishery must be harmonised to reduce acrimony between stakeholders and offer new fishermen a career they can be proud to be part of.  Social license to operate is high on EECo’s agenda.