Andrew Kerr, Chairman
Andrew has built up his conservation credentials within the Wildlife Trust movement here in the UK where he has been Chairman of both Gloucestershire (GWT) and then also of the South West Wildlife Trust. His great interests have been butterflies and migratory fish. These governance and leadership roles greatly stimulated his understanding and then commitment to sustainability which he now believes is fundamental.
His passion for the eel developed by living near the River Severn where he heard in his youth the stories of super abundance and then in later life of their decline and now the listing as critically endangered. As Chairman of GWT he was asked why conservationists were doing nothing about this crisis and so following treatment for prostate cancer took up the challenge.
His back ground includes 25 years as a management consultant specialising in organisational development, leadership and change. He learnt about industry and manufacturing in Clarks Shoes and before that following his training at Sandhurst saw military service as a Captain in the 17/21 Lancers.
Andrew is the author of the book ‘I can never say enough about the men’ the remarkable history of the private army of the Maharajah of Kashmir in WW1. He regularly travels to India and gives talks on both this subject and eels.
Dr. Willem Dekker, Science Leader
Willem has been involved in eel research since 1984. Starting from a local perspective on the fisheries in Lake IJsselmeer (the Netherlands), he developed a pan-European view on the long-term population dynamics of the European eel stock, culminating in his 2004 PhD thesis: “Slipping through our hands; population dynamics of the European eel”. He chaired the Eel Working Group, a joint group of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea and the European Inland Fisheries Advisory Committee, from 1996 to 2006. He had a leading role in the design and development of the European Regulation establishing measures for the recovery of the stock of European eel. He is currently employed at the Freshwater Institute of the Swedish Agricultural University in Stockholm. His research interests focus on the assessment and management of the eel fisheries throughout Europe, including historical and cultural aspects, assessment procedures and stock dynamics.
Alex Koelewijn, Commercial leader
Alex is a decsendant of an old Dutch fishermen’s family. Since the mid 1500 they have fished, processed and traded. Although Alex grew up with eel he started a custom clearance agency with his brother in 1991. In 1992 his eel blood started to itch and he opened a brandnew eel trading company and smokery using the ancient family recipies. Compassion for the fish and traditional dishes were and are his passion.
As the eel crisis developed Alex learned about the EU Eel Regulation 1100/2007 and its implementation through the Dutch Eel Management Plan. In 2009 he was one of the founding fathers of the Dutch Eel traders association NeVePaling. In 2010 he spent some months investigating and reviewing the eel crisis and during this period he realised that nature has its limits. He concluded the eel industry had to reinvent itself. In 2010 he was one of the founding fathers of the Dutch DUPAN Foundation and under his leadership the Dutch eel fund was invented. Alex is a true believer that the eel industry has the abillity to make the move to a fully traceable eel product from fishermen to plate and to reduce all waste to a minimum. A traceable chain of custody is one of the key elements of the Sustainable Eel Standard. Since early 2010, Alex is connected with the Sustainable Eel Group where he has been elected as leader of the Working Group Commercial.
In 2015 Alex was co-founder of the Eel Stewardship Association, the owner of the collective trade mark Eel Stewardship Fund. The ESF logo is to be found on eel products. The ESF enables the funding of conservation and scientific programmes like the restocking of eels in large numbers, trapping of migrating silver eels in front of hydropower and pumping stations and immediate transfer to open sea and therefore enable a safe pass towards the spawning grounds. Furthermore, the ESF funds scientific research for this incredable and little understood wonder of nature.
Cy Griffin, Conservation Leader
Cy Griffin is the European Programme Manager of Wetlands International’s European Association, which together with its members, works to sustain and restore wetlands for their resources and biodiversity. This is done by raising awareness about wetlands ecosystems and advocating the sustainable use of wetlands, in particular by linking science, policy and practice. The Wetlands International – European Association is composed of a small team, bringing the experience of the Wetlands International global network to the policy processes in Brussels. Cy was previously the Director of Conservation at the European Hunting Federation (FACE), where he was closely involved with developing frameworks for conservation and sustainable use of wildlife, including adaptive harvest management of migratory waterbirds in Europe. He has a strong interest for migratory species not just for their fascinating life history, but also because they link people at international scale.
David Bunt, Operations Director
David Bunt has been involved in fisheries science and management since graduating in 1985. After a MSc. In Aquatic Resource Management David spent 30 years in fisheries and environmental management and regulation with the UK’s National Rivers Authority and Environment Agency, where he implemented many measures to improve cyprinid and salmonid fisheries.
He has been a member of the Institute of Fisheries Management (IFM) since 1985, filling a number of positions to progress its objectives of supporting sustainable fisheries management. He has achieved the status of Fellow of the Institute, and currently holds the positions of Vice Chairman and Executive Director. Through the IFM he has achieved the qualification of Chartered Environmentalist.
David was a founder member of SEG in 2010 and has been primarily responsible for developing and managing the Sustainable Eel Standard. In 2016 David left employment to become a freelance environmental consultant. He is contracted to SEG as Director of Operations with principal roles to be responsible for the Standard, take it through the ISEAL process, gain funding and co-ordinate the delivery of eel conservation projects, and to deliver eel mitigation projects for companies who are liable to complete ‘Alternative Measures by Other Means’.
Florian Stein, Scientific Project Manager
Florian is an experienced fish ecologist who has developed a strong background in eel ecology over the last seven years. During this period, he was involved in several scientific eel projects across Germany and Sweden. These projects mainly focussed on the identification of environmental factors that trigger eels’ downstream migration in dependence of weather conditions and location within the river catchment.
In spring 2015, he decided to shift his research focus having recognized that there was very little information available that deals with the global trade in glass eels. In winter 2015/2016 he visited Hong Kong and initiated a project with the Fishery authorities and the University of Hong Kong. In summer 2016 they were able to prove the illegal trade route from Europe into Hong Kong by DNA analysis of seized glass eels. Since early 2016, Florian continued his investigations contracted on behalf of the Sustainable Eel Group. His market survey and the ICES WGEEL report 2016 revealed that illegal trade must be estimated to account for 35-50% of the declared European catches in season 2015/2016.
Florian currently assess the potential and possibilities of new technologies and methods that can be used to increase traceability of the global trade in glass eels.