Fears for future of Lake Tutira eels

The future eel population of Lake Tutira in Hawke's Bay is under threat from a local waterfall. Te Kāea went to check out why and investigate what's being done to get the eels humming again.

It's a beautiful waterfall, but it's stopping elvers (young eels) from making their way back to Lake Tutira.

“We've got a problem, we've got big eels but no baby eels,” says Hoani Taurima from Ngāti Kurumōkihi.

So, almost two years ago 50m spat ropes were installed to help those elvers make it to the lake.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council Environmental Scientist Dr Andy Hicks says, “We're hoping they'll be able to climb up and over the waterfall and get back into the lake like they have done for the decades before.”

But after checking the nets and there is not an eel in sight.

Taurima says, “It hasn't been too good today our baby eels weren't there, we've caught a koura and cocker buller, so no that good.”

But it's not all doom and gloom, with sister lake, Lake Orakai showing promise.

If the spat ropes are unsuccessful, moving eels from one lake to another could be the answer for the future.

Hicks says, “Within 10 years at least we should start to see some larger eels in the lake if we can get the small guys in there.”

It's been a joint effort between the council, iwi and DOC to fill the lakes once again with eels.