South Island eel fishers are rejecting a call for a moratorium on the catching of native long-fin eels.
Massey University freshwater ecologist Dr Mike Joy is warning the eels may be approaching extinction and there should be no commercial quota for it.
Dr Joy says it is bizarre that New Zealand's only native eel is still fished commercially despite while being on the endangered list.
The South Island Eel Industry Association says the collapse of eel population overseas has been due to overfishing the young, known as glass eels, a practice banned in New Zealand.
Chairman Victor Thompson says long-fin eel numbers and catch rates are improving across the country.
He says 50% of eel habitats are not fished commercially and at least one in two eels is available to breed.