The Tasmanian Freshwater Eel Industry is based on a small fishery focussed on wild harvests of short- and long-finned eels. Although small from a national, regional and global perspective it is of untapped significant potential within the Tasmanian context. Declines observed in global eel resources have not been experienced in Tasmania. Industry has the opportunity to establish new markets and products whilst increasing traditional markets. Diversification of the product range may occur through by-catch species such as redfin and tench.
A partial but significant consolidation of industry participants via joint venture activities over the past three years has initiated a renewed interest in the potential for the fishery and industry. There are challenges in matching products with markets, value adding (including aquaculture), seasonal supply and logistical issues. It is critical to address these challenges and identify solutions and strategies to support industry development.
The industry has significant potential in Tasmania. A plan to develop and expand the industry is needed to:
1. Establish a common strategic vision and direction
2. Unify fishers, industry and resource managers towards a common goal
3. Identify issues, challenges, and barriers to industry development providing a planned prioritised approach to solutions
4. Provide a measured approach to industry expansion, whilst meeting goals for ecological sustainability
5. Provide guidance on the contemporary research needs for the industry based on an agreed direction.
A development plan will also assist investors, fishers, industry sub-sectors, resource managers, researchers understand the future directions for the fishery, it's challenges and needs.