Maori and commercial eeling interests say they will work together to protect threatened long-finned and short-finned eels.
Iwi, industry and scientists came together for the first time at a hui on Friday at Awanuiarangi campus in Whakatane.
Ngati Awa Fisheries chair John Hohapata-Oke says Maori own more than 50% of the eel quota, so there is a commitment across the industry to kaitiakitanga.
He told Waatea News that the wild eel fishery is not in a good state.
"Not only is the species in trouble, but we have issues round habitat through reclamations, through discharges, diversions, culverts, structures, the whole lot that is really causing havoc for those species," he says.
Mr Hohapata-Oke says there was unanimous support for setting up a national eel association and an industry strategy working party.