Eels are thought to take up to three years migrating as larvae from the Sargasso Sea to European rivers, where they spend up to 20 years before making the 4,000-mile return journey to the Sargasso, where they spawn and die. The amount of adult eels leaving UK waters to head back to the Sargosso Sea to spawn, is estimated at over a thousand tonnes, putting the eight tonnes caught into perspective.
An industry source told Restaurant that although elver (baby eels) stocks have dropped sharply in the past decade, the number of adult eels in waterways has yet to be affected. “In my view, UK fished eel is sustainable. Eel fisheries only have a 75% catchment rate, meaning only 25% of the eel passing through get caught,” he said.