National | Eel

Whangarei hapū work to increase tuna stocks

A Whangarei hapū collective is investigating the results of a six-year effort to revive tuna populations in local rivers and streams. 'Ngā Kaitiaki o ngā Wai Māori' together with NIWA hope the elver catch and release programme has increased tuna numbers.

Reviving eel stocks and waterways for the community.

Nga Kaitiaki o nga Wai Māori spokesperson Allan Halliday says, "We've now been transferring elvers from the Titoki power station for six-years so it's now time to see if all of our work has been worth it, to see if those elvers are surviving and so far they're looking pretty good.

To assess water quality and take stock of tuna numbers an electric fishing unit is used to stun the eels. This enables them to be caught, counted and measured before being released.

Halliday says "We're no longer able to manaaki (look after) our manuhiri (visitors) as we'd like to, we can't put tuna on the tables in our marae like we used to at every occasion, and we'd like to go back to having that luxury."

It's expected the waterway surveys will take two weeks. They will then be assessed annually for the next four years.

NIWA's Erica Williams says, “The data that we're generating with our communities is to help them build their capacity around understanding some of the how science can help them answer their questions, but then also feeds into their management and co-management and changes that they want to see when their having conversations with organisations like DOC, MPI, councils and others."

Next week the group hopes to bring schools out to encourage the next generation to continue the project.