Eel (Longfinned)

Maori name: tuna
Scientific name: Anguilla dieffenbachii
Availability: Year round in the North Island, spring to autumn in the South Island
Weight: up to 20kg
Length: 0.5–1.2m, reaching 2m

Eel (Longfinned)

Maori name: tuna
Scientific name: Anguilla dieffenbachii
Availability: Year round in the North Island, spring to autumn in the South Island
Weight: up to 20kg
Length: 0.5–1.2m, reaching 2m
X

Location

They live mainly in freshwater but migrate and breed in the ocean. In colder regions, the eels hibernate in winter.

Attributes

Dark brown or grey body with a pale belly. Migrating adults are sooty black with larger eyes, circled with blue. Longfinned eels have a dorsal fin that extends further forward than that of Shortfinned eel (A. australis), and a larger mouth that extends back beyond their eye.

Family

Longfinned eels belong to the Anguillidae family (freshwater eels) and are endemic to New Zealand.

Spawning

Male Longfinned eels migrate to their spawning grounds at between 12 and 35 years old (average 23 years) and females between 25 and 60 years old (average 34 years). Longfinned eels are thought to spawn to the east of Tonga. Their eggs hatch into leptocephali (transparent, leaf-shaped) larvae that drift in the ocean for some time before they reach the coast of New Zealand. These then change into elvers and swim upstream.

Sustainability

The contemporary commercial eel fishery dates from the mid-1960s when markets were established in Europe and Asia. Eel catches are greatly influenced by water temperature, flood events (increased catches) and drought conditions (reduced catches). Catches decline in winter months, particularly in the South Island. The eel fisheries in the South Island, Chatham Island and North Island were introduced to the Quota Management System from 2000-2004. Minimum and maximum size limits exist across the country. Recreational fishers are limited to a daily bag limit of six eels. They are also an important customary fishery, which is managed by authorisations issued under the fisheries regulations.  Indices of abundance for longfin and shortfin eels are available from commercial catch data for those areas that are commercially fished.Monitoring of recruitment is often combined with work to mitigate the effect of hydro-power dams.  

Fishing methods

Many Longfinned eels are caught on their seaward migration (when they have a higher fat content) or in their freshwater environment, often in fyke nets or traps and pots. They are caught year-round in the North Island and in spring to autumn in the South Island.

Nutrition

Eel (Longfinned) is a good source

To quality for a 'good source' claim the food must contain at least 25% of the RDI.
The Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) is considered to be the average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97–98 per cent) healthy individuals in a particular life stage and gender group.

of Selenium

Selenium is necessary for normal immune system function and for the production of thyroid hormones and it contributes to the maintenance of hair and nails

, Vitamin A

Vitamin A is necessary for normal vision and the structure and function of skin and mucous membranes

, Niacin (vitamin B3)

Niacin (vitamin B3) is necessary for the release of energy from food and for the normal structure and function of skin and mucous membranes, and contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue

, Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is necessary for normal neurological function and it contributes to blood formation, energy metabolism and to the growth and development in children

, Vitamin D

Vitamin D is necessary for normal bone structure and the utilisation of calcium and phosphorus and it contributes to the maintenance of normal teeth

and Vitamin E

Vitamin E is contributes to the protection of cells from free radical damage and to the normal growth and development of children

; and a source

To quality for a 'source' claim the food must contain at least 10% of the RDI.
The Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) is considered to be the average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97–98 per cent) healthy individuals in a particular life stage and gender group.

of Iodine

Iodine is necessary for the production of thyroid hormones, for normal neurological function and for normal energy metabolism, and it contributes to the growth and development in children

, Magnesium

Magnesium is necessary for normal nerve and muscle function and for teeth and bone structure and it contributes to normal energy metabolism

, Phosphorus

Phosphorus is necessary for normal teeth, bone and cell membrane structure and for energy metabolism

, Potassium

Potassium is necessary for water and electrolyte balance, it contributes to the functioning of the nervous system and normal muscle function; and to the normal growth and development of children

, Thiamin (vitamin B1)

Thiamin (vitamin B1) is necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates and for normal neurological and cardiac function, and it contributes to the production of energy

, Riboflavin (vitamin B2)

Riboflavin (vitamin B2) is contributes to the transport and metabolism of iron, to the release of energy from food and to the maintenance of normal vision

and Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is necessary for the metabolism of protein and the transport and metabolism of iron and it contributes to immune system function, energy metabolism, to reduction of tiredness and fatigue, and to the regulation of hormonal activity

.

Seafood is a highly nutritious food and is a great source of protein

Protein is necessary for tissue building and repair, normal growth and development of bone in children and adolescents aged 4 years and over, and contributes to growth and maintenance of muscle mass

. Many species are low in saturated fat and a number of them are a good source of Omega 3

Omega 3 is a group of fatty acids that contribute to heart health

.

Tips

Eels are often smoked, and available as either fillets or pieces.

Buying & Storage Tips

Unless you are catching your own, eels are usually available as a processed product, rather than a fresh item.