The significant increases in elver recruitment in recent years, and the accelerating support for sustainability across Europe, are giving renewed hope for the eel – Europe’s principal eel scientists, conservations and industry leaders agreed this week.
Dr Willem Dekker of Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences opened the conference at Fishmonger’s Hall with a detailed look at eel populations and human interventions over the last 1,000 years – concluding that sudden increases in the last 4 years provided renewed hope for the fortunes of the eel in Europe.
Andrew Kerr, Chairman of SEG said “The atmosphere in the eel world is much more hopeful than at our inception 5 years ago. Something caused the recent huge increases in the number of elvers arriving in Europe, and while there is increased impetus to research the causes of that phenomena, we have also seen a colossal human effort across the continent to help the millions of elvers to reach inland wetland habitats.”
“At the same time, Governments, NGO’s, charities and the industry are coordinating to bypass migration obstructions and to screen hazards in order to allow safer passage for migrating eels and other fish in and out of Europe’s waterways.
“While we’ve seen a huge amount of progress in the last 5 years, and are excited about what else can be achieved in future, there is still much more work needed. This will require new partnerships of many organisations and people building transnational projects all based on science, conservation and the eel industry – all coming together to collaborate for a sustainable outcome.”
Over 60 delegates gathered at the SEG 5th Anniversary conference in London to hear a variety of presentations that outlined the positive and unexpected increase in elver recruitment, and also the extensive projects underway across Europe to open up key waterways and remove barriers to migration.
Frank Hoffman of Wetlands International and Peter Philipsen of EIA demonstrated the plans to create clear passage for eels and other migrating in thousands of kilometres of waterways in the Netherlands and the wider Rhine-Delta.
Mike Morris of the Severn Rivers Trust and Sam Chapman of the Environment Agency gave details of the plans to open up the River Severn to enable eel migration, a project that will involve a wide number of innovative partnerships across many sectors.