Eels more under threat than kiwi
‘‘I felt really bad because what did the eels do to them? They're slimy but they're still lovable.’’
They live for 100 years, don’t breed until they’re 80 and are a threatened native species - so why is it legal to kill six a day?
It’s the question Cam CulverDickens, 8, has for the Ministry for Primary Industries and the people who left six dead and dying eels floating in a Wellington stream on Wednesday.
The Titahi Bay School pupil was picnicking with his family at Willowbank Reserve when he saw a group of adults and children killing the eels.
‘‘When they left we found two in a plastic bag and four floating in the river with their heads bashed in, one was still alive but died.’’
‘‘I felt really bad because what did the eels do to them? They looked like long fin eels which are endangered and they were only little ones.
‘‘They’re slimy but they’re still lovable, they were just so beautiful.’’
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Primary Industries, who oversee eel fishing in New Zealand said recreational fishers could catch six eels a day.
Commercial fishers could take up to 4 kilograms a day and faced fines, warnings or prosecutions for catching under-size eels.
The longfin eel was classified as ‘at risk – declining’ and the shortfin eel as ‘not threatened,’ she said.
New catch limits and allowances were being reviewed in the North Island and would be implemented in October 2017.
But Cam’s mother, Amanda Dickens, said the idea people could kill a native, threatened animal didn’t make any sense.
‘‘We don’t have enough of these animals to go and bash in six eel’s heads.
‘‘I can understand customary rights [which allow Maori to catch eels] but to allow people to kill them for nothing is crazy.’’
Manager of Kapiti’s Nga Manu Nature Reserve Matu Booth warned eels could ‘‘easily move towards extinction.’’
‘‘They have the same threatened status as kiwi but these guys can be commercially caught. The threats to them are higher than kiwi.’’
Eels had an undeserved bad rap, he said.
‘‘They live in the same stream for hundreds of years then they’ll have an urge to migrate to somewhere in the Pacific, south of Tonga, where they breed.
‘‘They’re amazing. Our children have realised that.’’