Accelerating the recovery of the European Eel

ICES WGEEL Report 2017 online (read executive summary)

The recruitment of European eel from the ocean remained low in 2017. The glass eel recruitment compared to the 1960 –1979 was only 1.6% in the North Sea and 8.7% in the Elsewhere Europe series , based on available data series. For the yellow eel data series, recruitment was 24% of the level during the reference period.

Landings were for the first time in this report presented for each eel life stage, habitat and country. However, the landings data presented are only those reported to the WGEEL, either through responses to the 2017 Data c all or in Country Reports, or integrated by the WGEEL using data from its previous reports. As some countries have not reported all their landing s, even the raised versions reported here should be considered as minima.

Glass eel fisheries within the EU take place in France, UK, Spain, Portugal and Italy. Glass eel landings have declined sharply from 19 80, when reported landings were larger than 2000 tonnes (6000 million eels) to 57 t (171 million eels) in 2017. Some non – EU countries (e.g. Morocco) also have glass eel fisheries, but data were not available.

Yellow and silver eel landings are not always reported separately, so are combined here. The total landings of yellow and silver eels decreased from 18 000 – 20 000 tonnes in the 1950s to 2000 – 3000 tonnes since 2009 , and a reported 2280 tonnes in 2016 . Most yellow and silver eel landings come from fresh, transitional and coastal waters.

Recreational catches and landings are poorly reported so amounts must be treated as a minimum but were estimated as 2 t for glass eel in 2017, and 241 tonnes for yellow and silver eel combined in 2016 (2017 data not available at time of writing). Overall, the impact of recreational fisheries on the eel stock remains largely unquantified even though landings can be thought to be at a similar order of magnitude to those of commercial fisheries.

Aquaculture production was about 5000 – 6000 t in most recent years (reported data from the Eel Data c all 2017 and WGEEL Country Reports). European eel aquaculture is only based on wild recruits. It should be noted that part of the production are eels subsequently released for stocking.

A bout 10 million stocked eels were reported in 2017, though these we re stocked at a variety of life – history stages and times after first capture.

The working group has developed a Data call for 2018, as Part 2 following on from Part 1 in 2017. Part 2 requires updates for recruitment, landings, aquaculture and stocking, but also full time – series of silver eel biomass stock estimates, silver eel mortality biomass equivalents, mortality rate estimates and silver eel time – series . The call includes nine data spreadsheets, one overview spreadsheet, and one feedback spreadsheet, each to be supplied in separate Annexes. The overview sheet was added to the Data call based on experiences from 2017 to ensure a more systematic way of filling in the data spreadsheets.

A workshop to develop the process for data checks , etc . will be held in July 2018.

The European eel listing on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) c a me into force in March 2009, so any international trade in this species needs to be accompanied by a permit. Since 2010, all trade into and out of the EU was banned. For 2017, Turkey had an export quota of 70 t. Other non – EU countries have not reported any quotas to CITES (CITES export quotas database consulted 07/10/ 2017), however, it is understood that Tunisia intends to establish an export quota.

Download full 2017 Report of the Joint EIFAAC/ICES/GFCM Working Group on Eels (WGEEL)

Download country reports