Tuesday, March 30, 2010

protect our long finned eels

Tuna - long finned eels are beautiful creatures. I often take my son to visit them in the gardens. We walk to the edge and they come over, their bright eyes looking at us as we look at them. My son calls them snakes and eels and tuna. At his first party the other day he wanted a snake painted on his face. His first proper drawing has been a series of snakes. He knows that snakes are eels and eels are tuna. He likes them and so do I. They are dying out and will be gone in our lifetimes if we don't take action to protect them.

And a start will be to stop commercial fishing and the selling of eel at markets.

From NZ Herald
"With the blessing of the Ministry of Fisheries, commercial fishing of the eel continues - a situation freshwater ecologist Dr Mike Joy described as a "travesty".
FishMart at the Auckland fish market sells live eels for $19.95/kg.
"Where in the world could you go down to a central-city market and legally buy a live, threatened, endemic animal?" said Joy, of Manaaki Tuna (the Massey University Tuna Research and Restoration Group).
Get to know your eel or tuna as they are really special taonga that deserve our protection. I want my son's son's son to be able to see tuna in the wild and for that to happen we need to get serious about saving them NOW.

Recent research is scary
The number of juveniles arriving at our streams from where they spawn in the ocean has dropped by 75%
The average size captured has dropped every year since commercial fishing started
Regularly fished rivers in the South Island now have male eels outnumbering females by 100 to 1 because the females are larger so are taken first.
How beautiful are tuna?

From DOC

"For at least 65 million years, long-finned eels (Anquilla dieffenbachii) have been swimming up and down New Zealand’s waterways.The long-finned eel is one of the largest freshwater eels in the world and it is found only in the rivers and lakes of this country. Longfin eels are threatened fish.
They are legendary climbers and have made their way well inland in most river systems, even those with natural barriers. Elvers (young eels) swimming up river will climb waterfalls and even dams by leaving the water and wriggling over damp areas. It is not unheard of for an eel to climb a waterfall of up to 20 metres.
Compared with many other fish, eels are slow growing - a long-fin may grow only between 15-25mm a year. They can also live for many years. Large long-fins have been estimated to be at least 60 years old.
Long-finned eels breed only once, at the end of their life. When they are ready to breed, they leave New Zealand and swim five thousand kilometres up into the tropical Pacific to spawn, probably in deep ocean trenches somewhere near Tonga.
Habitat loss also affects eels. Changes caused by hydro development, drainage and irrigation schemes and river diversions affect eels by reducing their habitat and the water available for aquatic life. Culverts and dams can also impact on eels by preventing their migration.
Eel habitat is also impacted by pollution. Sewage and effluent from meat works and pulp and paper plants discharged into rivers can remove large quantities of oxygen from the water. The result of this oxygen depletion is that the fish will either die or move away."
Protect the tuna, protect the habitat, protect the rivers and waterways and we protect us and our children after us.

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