In 2004, MPI placed North Island eel fisheries into the Quota Management System.  This was a controversial decision for some Iwi and unsuccessful legal challenges went as far as the Privy Council.

On entering the QMS, Maori automatically received 20% of eel quota shares for each of the four Quota Management Areas.  

MPI Manages our Fisheries

Eel fisheries legally fall under the Fisheries Act making their management a responsibility of the ministry of primary industry

The Eel Working Group 

The Eel Working Group informs the Minister of Primary Industry on the state of the eel fishery and options for management.


  •   MPI convened, open to all stakeholders, science led.

MPI sets the total allowable catch (TAC) = Customary + Commercial + Recreational


Management of North Island eel fisheries is through 4 quota management areas (Click Here) divided into 12 catchment based sub areas. Data for the size distribution of eels in the catch is taken at a finer scale Click Here.


Science is usually provided by external agencies, such as Niwa.


The Minister makes final decisions based on advice from the Working Group, tangata whenua, scientists and industry


EECo participates fully in the Eel Working Group process


In addition to setting a total allowable catch for each eel species in each quota management area, the Minister also sets regulations.  To read about these regulations Click Here


Under the Fisheries Act, Habitats of Particular Significance for Fisheries Management should be protected.  To read about Eel Habitat Click Here.


EECo hope, indeed expect, that the Ministry will, in future, better support our rivers and eel fishery habitat, especially at high level processes.  

Stock Assessment


The Working Group assesses the health of our eel stocks annually through a rigorous science process. To read about eel stock assessment Click Here.

New Zealand eel fisheries are data rich compared to most of the world. 

The modelling process, exacting and frustrating at times is evolving as new techniques are developed.  

Eel quota is scheduled to be distributed by Te Ohu Kai Moana to Iwi during 2017.


Since 2004, various Maori entities including AFL have purchased further short fin and long fin eel quota shares on the open market.  Maori currently own/control slightly more than half of the North Island commercial eel fishery along with strong legal non-commercial customary rights.

To view the 4 Quota Management Areas and current total allowable catches  Click Here for the attached diagram.