BABY eel, or 'elver' numbers in the Waikaremoana catchment have significantly dropped. Numbers peaked at 160,000 in 2015/16 and fell to around 30,000 last year.
Veteran eel specialist and 2012 Science Communication Award winner Jacques Boubee, recently retired from NIWA, provided an update at the annual Genesis consultation meeting late last year.
He said the elver trapping and measuring programme began in 1996 and became an integral part of the hapū Genesis programme from 2008, with the involvement of the Tuai community.
He said 456,000 elvers had been transferred during the programme.
There were an estimated 27,800 shortfin eels and 1300 longfins, and elvers were sourced from several waterways including Manaone Stream, Kaitawa leakage, Whakamarino and Kahui Tangaroa River.
“As a community, we need to discuss the impact of putting eels into the lake and the possible transfer of unwanted species,” he said.
Mr Boubee said last year numbers in the North Island dropped from Wairoa to Karapiro and Patea. Eel were attracted to smell, and eel odour in the river meant they would go to that river.
“The more they smell eel, the more they will go up that river.”
Sea currents affected eel movement, and he said monitoring, transferring and workshops continued last month.
Kaumatua James Waiwai called for a review of the tuna (eel) management policy, including more resources such as a vehicle. He said tanata whenua should have access when they are having tani.