Eels: Quick Facts

Scientific name: Anguilla australis (short-finned), A. dieffenbachii (long-finned), A. reinhardtii (Australian long-finned)

Other names: tuna hao, tuna heke, papakura (Maori: short-finned); kuuwharuwharu, reherehe (Maori: long-finned) short-finned eel, long-finned eel; yellow eel, silver eel, (NZ); anguile australe (France)

Ranking: E (Red - Worst Choice)

Best Fish Guide: Eels

 Ranking: E (Red - Worst Choice)

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Description: Eels are important freshwater predators. There are two main species of New Zealand eel – the endemic long-finned and native short-finned eels. They are caught in baited fyke nets or traditional hinaki. Both species are long-lived, spending part of their life-cycle at sea and part in freshwater environments. The long-finned eel is listed as a threatened species by the Department of Conservation (Hitchmough (comp) 2002, Allibone et al 2010). A third species - the Australian long-finned eel - is primarily found in Northland.


Ecological concerns: The severely overfished status of the endemic long-finned eel, declining catch rates and the unknown sustainability of recent catch levels, managing two species (short-finned and Australian long-finned) as one species in the South Island, the lack of current or reference biomass estimates and the lack of a management plan. Bycatch of seabirds is also of concern. 

Economic value: New Zealand and exports of about $6 million in 2008 to markets including Germany, Belgium, Netherlands and Italy.


Biology and risk of overfishing (score E)
Status and sustainability of fish catches (score E)
Impact of fishing method and protected, threatened and endangered species captures (score B and C)
Management and management unit (score C and E)

For a full ecological assessment click here