Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has approved the first set of fisheries bylaws for the Waikato-Tainui Fisheries Area.
The bylaws, under the Waikato-Tainui (Waikato River Fisheries) Regulations 2011, allow Waikato-Tainui to exercise traditional management practices to prohibit or restrict fishing for sustainable utilisation or cultural reasons.
The new bylaws take effect on 10 April and include:
- A prohibition on the taking of female migrant longfin eels
- Minimum weights for commercially harvested eels (300g for shortfin eels and 400g for longfin eels)
- A maximum weight of 2kg for commercially harvested eels
- Seasonal closure prohibiting the commercial harvest of any eels from specific streams and rivers of the Whangamarino Wetland during the tuna heke (eel migration) from 1 March to 31 May.
- Temporary prohibition on the taking of fisheries resources from any area within the Waikato-Tainui Fisheries Area due to the occurrence of a human death.
“These new bylaws will support eel migration and the sustainability of the fishery,” says Guy.
“At the same time, they should have only a minor impact on commercial fishers. Some of these bylaws complement existing regulations or formalise some voluntary measures put in place by commercial eel fishers, and there is plenty of area still to fish in.
The Ministry for Primary Industries and Waikato-Tainui will work with commercial eel fishers and other users to implement the bylaws.
Waikato-Tainui will also fund an eel monitoring programme so the effect of the bylaws can be periodically reviewed, as well as any other research necessary to ensure the health of the eel fisheries.
The Waikato-Tainui Fisheries Area covers the lower Waikato River catchment from Karapiro to the Waikato River mouth.