Researchers from Te Wananga o Raukawa are backing calls for a moratorium on the commercial harvesting of longfin eels.
Caleb Royal of Ngati Raukawa, who's been studying tuna (eels) and their habitat for eight years, says the species is in a perilous state.
He told Waatea News that a new group, Manaaki Tuna, is bringing together Maori and environmental groups to push for the protection measures.
The depletion of tuna is happening in a variety of ways, Mr Royal says, "and it's not fair just to point a finger at the commercial sector. But I think it's a step that needs to be taken because it is something that we can do as people of Aotearoa."
He says a moratorium would need to be accompanied by efforts to clean up streams and rivers, or the traditional Maori food will vanish completely.