SUMMARY

SUMMARY

IDENTIFICATION

SCIENTIFIC NAME(s)

Anguilla australis

SPECIES NAME(s)

Short-finned eel, Short-fin eel

Two freshwater eel species can be found: Shortfin eel Anguilla australis and the endemic Longfin eel A. dieffenbachii but catches are mainly composed of Shortfin eel in the South Island, especially in Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere (ANG 13) (Jellyman, 2007; MPI, 2012). The stock structure is not truly known. Biochemical evidences suggests a unique stock around SE Australia and New Zealand (MPI, 2012). However, a study focused on the genetic structure of this species reveals significant genetic differentiation between populations of East Australia and New Zealand, and might be genetically isolated (Shen and Tzeng 2007).


ANALYSIS

Strengths

Compliance is not an issue. The fishery is TAC-regulated, minimum size limits are set and no-fishery areas are established. A management plan is in place; the management of the fishery “is based on the maintenance of the spawning escapement and in the protection of 34% of the South Island available habitat for eels”. The impact of the fishery on the seabed habitat and on PET species is negligible.

Weaknesses

Biomass estimates are not available neither respective reference points. Abundance estimates are only available for the entire South Island. No formal stock assessment is conducted. The harvest strategy is based on past landings trends. A harvest control rule is not in place. Eel abundance and habitat has been impacted by anthropic factors.

Options

Conduct a formal stock assessment and biological surveys to improve management of the stock. Monitor the capture of immature females. Management and assessment of the stock should be shared between New Zealand and Australia, along the distribution of the species. Identify and quantify the interaction of the fishery PET species.

FISHSOURCE SCORES

Management Quality:

Management Strategy:

≥ 6

Managers Compliance:

10

Fishers Compliance:

10

Stock Health:

Current
Health:

NOT YET SCORED

Future Health:

NOT YET SCORED


FIPS

No related FIPs

CERTIFICATIONS

No related MSC fisheries

Fisheries

Within FishSource, the term "fishery" is used to indicate each unique combination of a flag country with a fishing gear, operating within a particular management unit, upon a resource. That resource may have a known biological stock structure and/or may be assessed at another level for practical or jurisdictional reasons. A fishery is the finest scale of resolution captured in FishSource profiles, as it is generally the scale at which sustainability can most fairly and practically be evaluated.

MANAGEMENT UNIT FLAG COUNTRY FISHING GEAR
Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere ESA AS New Zealand Fyke nets

Analysis

OVERVIEW

Strengths

Compliance is not an issue. The fishery is TAC-regulated, minimum size limits are set and no-fishery areas are established. A management plan is in place; the management of the fishery “is based on the maintenance of the spawning escapement and in the protection of 34% of the South Island available habitat for eels”. The impact of the fishery on the seabed habitat and on PET species is negligible.

Weaknesses

Biomass estimates are not available neither respective reference points. Abundance estimates are only available for the entire South Island. No formal stock assessment is conducted. The harvest strategy is based on past landings trends. A harvest control rule is not in place. Eel abundance and habitat has been impacted by anthropic factors.

Options

Conduct a formal stock assessment and biological surveys to improve management of the stock. Monitor the capture of immature females. Management and assessment of the stock should be shared between New Zealand and Australia, along the distribution of the species. Identify and quantify the interaction of the fishery PET species.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Last updated on 31 December 2018

Recommendations to Retailers & Supply Chain
  • Start a fishery improvement project (FIP) to address the lack of publicly available information on this fishery. For advice on starting a FIP, see SFP's Seafood Industry Guide to FIPs and other resources at https://www.sustainablefish.org/Programs/Professional-Guidance/FIP-Toolkit-Resources
  • Encourage scientists to share their studies/publications with FishSource by commenting on the profile and uploading a hyperlink to the document.
  • Work with the government and scientists on the collection of data and make them accessible online.

1.STOCK STATUS

STOCK ASSESSMENT

A “cautioned assessment” is based on recruitment data, Catch per Unit Effort (CPUE) indices and data on spawning escapement; no formal stock assessment is conducted. Biomass estimates are not available for any of the stocks; reliable relative abundance is only based on CPUE data (MPI, 2012). A population dynamics stock assessment model is being developed (MoF, 2009).

SCIENTIFIC ADVICE

The Eel Fishery Assessment Group (EFAG), under the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), evaluate the state of the fisheries and stocks and analyze management scenarios, not being responsible by management recommendations or decisions which are taken by the MPI. A final decision is discussed in a multi-stakeholder meeting (MPI, 2012). The TACC is based on former catches trends in lack of biological data and analysis. Considering the distribution and exploitation of shortfin eel, Jellyman (2007) recommends the shared management of the stock by New Zealand and Australia cooperatively; efforts are in place (DEPI, 2010).
The catch composition that mainly comprises immature females, justifies the closely monitoring and management of the stock. The effect of the migration of juveniles and contribution to spawning escapement of the stock of shortfin eels is not known (Jellyman, 2007). Research activities were considered by the MPI to improve the knowledge, status and consequently the management of the stock (MoF, 2009).

Reference Points

Reference points are not defined.

CURRENT STATUS

Current biomass estimates are not available. Reported landings are at 27,070 tons for the 2012/2013 fishing season. Captures is mainly composed of immature females of shortfin eels since males migrate with <220g (MPI, 2012).

Trends

The relative abundance estimate for the South Island, based on CPUE indices, demonstrates an increase from 2001/2002 to 2005/2006. Reported catches oscillated between 63,600 tons in 2001/2002 and 95,400 tons in 2002/2003 to around 120,000 tons during 2003/2004-2007/2008. A decrease occurred in 2010/2011 at 89,300 tons but catches increased again 2011/2012 to 117,960 tons (MPI, 2012).

2.MANAGEMENT QUALITY

MANAGEMENT

The fishery is TAC regulated since 1978 in order to control commercial catches increase (Jellyman, 2007; MPI, 2012). After several management measures, a cooperative management planning joining the industry and the Maori fishery resulted in the South Island Freshwater Eel Fisheries Plan. The Quota Management System (QMS) was introduced in 2000 in the South Island considering six stocks (ANG 11-16).

To guarantee the sustainability of the stocks, the eel management is based on the maintenance of the spawning escapement and in the protection of 34% of the South Island available habitat for eels (MPI, 2012).

Since 2002, in Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere (ANG 13) the fishing season exceptionally lasts from 1 February to 31 January. The legal landing weight extends from 280g to 4000g for both eel species – the minimum size was increased with the voluntary rise of the diameter of escapement tubes in fyke nets. Since 2006 all Longfin eels are voluntarily returned in Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere and numbers are registered in the Eel Catch Effort Returns (ECERs).

Recovery Plans

Not applicable.

COMPLIANCE

Compliance is not considered to be a current issue although some episodes of overpassing the bag limit and non-registration of catches have been detected (MPI, 2012).

3.ENVIRONMENT AND BIODIVERSITY

BYCATCH
ETP Species

Different species of Cormorants and Shags (protected by the Wildlife Act 1953), which prey on eels, can be attracted by the fishing operations in shallow waters, but the interaction is not considered of concern (MoF, 2009).

Other Species

Bycatch species, of which some are introduced species, comprise Common carp (koi carp) Cyprinus carpio, Brown bullhead (catfish) Ameiurus nebulosus, Sea trout Salmo trutta and Rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss, Rudd Scardinius erythrophthalmus, goldfish, flounders, mullets, and smaller species such as galaxiids and bullies (MoF, 2009; DoC, undated).

HABITAT

Concerns related with the slow growth rate of juveniles and low abundance of some year classes were detected in the beginning of the 2000s (Wood, 2008). The species is a top predator and the ecological importance should be integrated in the assessment (MoF, 2009). 
Anthropic impacts – like reservoirs, dams, water extraction, contamination – have been influencing both eel species, namely on spawning migration (Rowe and Graynoth, 2002; Jellyman, 2007; MPI, 2012). The impact is not truly studied but is considered to be higher than fishing (MoF, 2009). Technical facilities have been enabling the upstream recruitment which was conditioned. Loss of 90% of New Zealand wetlands and channeling has been impacting shortfin eels (Jellyman, 2007). The impact of the fishery on the habitat is minimal (MoF, 2009).

Marine Reserves

34% of the South Island eel habitat is protected (MPI, 2012) and in fact, 14% of eel biomass (all species) is protected in one-third of the South Island area (Jellyman, 2007). Different areas of Lake Ellesmere are closed to the commercial eel fishery – by the 11N of the Fisheries (South-East Area Commercial Fishing) Regulations 1986 (MoF, 2009).

FishSource Scores

SELECT SCORES

MANAGEMENT QUALITY

As calculated for 2012 data.

The score is ≥ 6.

A management plan is in place for both eel species in New Zealand South Island; no harvest control rule is defined. The fishery is TAC-regulated and the management of the fishery “is based on the maintenance of the spawning escapement and in the protection of 34% of the South Island available habitat for eels” (MPI, 2012).

As calculated for 2013 data.

The score is 10.0.

This measures the Set TACC as a percentage of the Advised TACC.

The Set TACC is 122 ('000 t). The Advised TACC is 122 ('000 t) .

The underlying Set TACC/Advised TACC for this index is 100%.

As calculated for 2013 data.

The score is 10.0.

This measures the Landings as a percentage of the Set TACC.

The Landings is 27.1 ('000 t). The Set TACC is 122 ('000 t) .

The underlying Landings/Set TACC for this index is 22.2%.

STOCK HEALTH:

No data available for biomass
No data available for biomass
To see data for catch and tac, please view this site on a desktop.
No data available for fishing mortality
No data available for fishing mortality
No data available for recruitment
No data available for recruitment
To see data for management quality, please view this site on a desktop.
No data available for stock status
No data available for stock status
DATA NOTES

1)* For Te Waihora (Lake Ellesmere) and since 2002, the fishing year lasts from 1 February to 31 January; thus the 2001 fishing year corresponds to the 2000/2001 season.  
*2)* From 2000/2001 to 2010/2011, landings regard commercial landings from MPI (2012) and from 2011/2012 regard reported catches from the NZ Fisheries Infosite. TACCs and landings include the commercial fishery and not the Customary Non-Commercial and Recreational fisheries. 
*3)* No formal stock assessment is conducted; any reference points are defined and the fishing mortality and biomass time-series are not available, preventing the calculation of scores #4 and #5. A qualitative score was assigned to #1 (please mouse-over for further details).

Download Source Data

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Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs)

No related FIPs

Certifications

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

No related MSC certifications

Sources

Credits

Department of Conservation (DoC), undated. Facts about pest fish, New Zealand Government. [Assessed 29th May 2013] http://www.doc.govt.nz/conservation/threats-and-impacts/animal-pests/animal-pests-a-z/fish/facts/

Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI), 2010. Fisheries Status Report 2010, Eel fishery. State Government of Victoria [Assessed 27th May 2013] http://www.dpi.vic.gov.au/fisheries/about-fisheries/publications-and-resources/fisheries-reports/fisheries-report-series/fisheries-status-report-2010/eel-fishery

Jellyman, D. J. 2007. Status of New Zealand fresh-water eel stocks and management initiatives, ICES Journal of Marine Science, 64:1379–1386 http://icesjms.oxfordjournals.org/content/64/7/1379.full.pdf+html

Ministry of Fisheries (MoF), 2009. South Island Freshwater Eel Fisheries Plan, Draft version. http://fs.fish.govt.nz/Doc/16442/South%20Island%20Eel%20Fisheries%20Plan%20-%20Draft%20Current%20Situation%20(a).pdf.ashx

Ministry of Fisheries (MoF), 2010. National Fisheries Plan for Deepwater and Middle-depth Fisheries, New Zealand Government, 59 pp. http://www.fish.govt.nz/NR/rdonlyres/4BF8C905-0893-4CF5-94E7-F20751729F70/0/NFP_Deepwate_and_Middledepth_Fisheries_Part1A.pdf

Rowe, D.K. and Graynoth, E. 2002. Lake Managers’ Handbook: Fish in New Zealand Lakes, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd for the Ministry for the Environment, New Zealand, 112 pp. http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/water/lm-fish-in-nz-lakes-jun02.pdf

Wood, H. F. 2008. The benthic ecology and food web dynamics of Te Waihora (Lake Ellesmere), Master of Science in Ecology, University of Canterbury, 86 pp. http://ir.canterbury.ac.nz/bitstream/10092/2274/1/fulltext_thesis.pdf

References

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    Short-finned eel - New Zealand and SE Australia

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