Accelerating the recovery of the European Eel

THE GUARDIAN – Illegal eel: black market continues to taint Europe’s eel fishery

Illegal eel: black market continues to taint Europe’s eel fishery

Author: Emma Bryce
Source: The Guardian

This year the banks of France’s great rivers have become the stage for an intensifying conflict, cued by the arrival of millions of baby European eels migrating from the North Atlantic into Europe’s rivers. Alongside the legitimate eel fishing season, which runs from November to March each year, a thriving black market usurps young eels from European waters, transporting tonnes of them, live, to Asia annually. This year the issue has reached a head, as those illegal forces clash with conservationists who are trying to draw attention to the eels’ fate – especially along the waterways of France.

The European eel species (Anguilla anguilla) is a centuries-old staple in European cuisine, but in the last 45 years, it’s undergone estimated declines of 90-95% that make it a critically endangered species today. “We’re actually dealing with a species on the very edge of survival,” says Andrew Kerr, chairman of the Sustainable Eel Group (SEG), an organisation working to aid the recovery of European eel across its habitat. …

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