Overfishing and the destruction of habitat has reduced Wairarapa’s eel fishery. In 2004 commercial fisherman Matt Paku (pictured) was catching just one-eighth of what he had caught when he started out in the 1970s. He began to smoke his eels to add value, earning the same money from the smaller catch. Demand has increased ten-fold since he started selling the smoky delicacy. Matt said, ‘We used to live on eels. They were to us like Weetbix was to everybody else.’
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