19 Mar 2013

Doubt cast on eel population data

8:19 am on 19 March 2013

A tribe pushing for a freeze on the fishing of longfin tuna or eels in Wairarapa is questioning the accuracy of official stock numbers.

According to the Ministry for Primary Industries, which collects most of its information from commercial fishers who fill out catch returns, the last set of data compiled in 2007 showed a rise in the number of longfins.

But the environmental manager of Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, Rawiri Smith, says he's not convinced that figure is correct.

He says the data is often associated with a commercial outcome, which can sometimes colour the research.

A petition calling for a temporary ban on the fishing of longfin eels is being delivered to Parliament at lunchtime on Tuesday.

Signatures for the petition, which argues that the eels are at risk of extinction, have been gathered by a group called Manaaki Tuna, which is made up of environmentalists, researchers, iwi and hapu - including Kahungunu ki Wairarapa.