Following the publication of the EU and UK trade deal, the Sustainable Eel Group is concerned that restrictions on trade will affect both the protection and sustainable use of the European eel.
A long eel tradition
Humanity has millennia long and rich tradition of fishing and eating eels. And eels are an important part of the biodiversity in our rivers and lakes. But the European eel is protected, following decades of decline. Fishing and trade are tightly regulated across Europe to ensure that the stock can recover and that exploitation will be sustainable. But eel trade has been impacted by the Brexit trade talks and is likely to have an effect on the eel’s recovery, as well as livelihoods that depend on them.
Impact on trade and business
The outcome of the trade talks between the UK and EU mean the following for eel trade:
Baby eels (elvers) caught in the Severn, Parrett and other rivers in England and Wales can no longer be exported (the majority for conservation restocking contracts) to Europe,
As Northern Ireland is treated as part of the EU for trade purposes, existing annual exports of elvers from England to restock Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland will also have to cease,
Merchants will no longer be able to import farmed eels from Europe (e.g., for smoked eel or jellied eel), which are widely enjoyed in delicatessens and restaurants.