Accelerating the recovery of the European Eel

Doing more in Europe for eel recovery – Visserij Nieuws

More needs to be done to better protect eels. According to the European ministers at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council last week.
“The agenda for Monday 26 September included the ‘Future for the European eel stock and those who depend on it’. Ministers concluded that more needs to be done to better protect eels, especially non-fishing related measures, as included in the EU Eel Regulation. Therefore, not only fisheries should be considered, but also migration problems, habitat loss, hydropower energy and pollution as important factors for a healthy eel stock.”
Read the full article on visserijniews, translated into English below.

Meer doen in Europa voor herstel paling

BRUSSEL – Er moet meer gedaan worden om de paling beter te beschermen. Aldus de Europese ministers vorige week op de Landbouw- en Visserijraad.


Doing more in Europe for eel recovery

General
BRUSSELS – More needs to be done to better protect eels. According to the European ministers at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council last week.
The agenda for Monday 26 September included the ‘Future for the European eel stock and those who depend on it’. Ministers concluded that more needs to be done to better protect eels, especially non-fishing related measures, as included in the EU Eel Regulation. Therefore, not only fisheries should be considered, but also migration problems, habitat loss, hydropower energy and pollution as important factors for a healthy eel stock.
Last spring, following the annual catch recommendations from ICES, the European Commission requested advice from three EU regional advisory councils: the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. The EC, through European Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius, indicated that fisheries, ecological and socio-economic aspects should be taken into account when determining measures to improve the eel stock.
The ministers were unanimous on a – as was often mentioned – holistic approach to the problem. According to them, this approach should be aimed at taking measures for eels, which benefit people, the economy and nature. A general fishing ban was only proposed by Ireland and Slovenia, two countries with no eel tradition, which introduced such a ban years ago. The other Member States, on the other hand, do not see a total fishing ban as a solution for eels.
Eel sector
The DUPAN Foundation, the sector organization for professional fishermen (netVISwerk), breeders (NeVeVi) and the trade (NeVePaling), believes that the response of the EU Member States reflects the vision of the sector well. DUPAN chairman Alex Koelewijn: ,,The state of the eel stock is still worrying and we must continue to work to protect the eel properly. A comprehensive and integrated approach that takes into account all habitats and life stages and all mortality factors is complex, but of great importance. The ministers’ call to relate the assessment of eel stocks no longer to the biomass of stretching silver eel, but to the mortality rates of the various and therefore non-fishing causes, is a satisfactory response to our plea that we have been making for more than ten years .”
DUPAN sees that the EU Member States have adjusted their thinking about effective management measures. “In the past, most Member States have focused on reducing fishing mortality, conveniently ignoring the main causes of stock decline, such as habitat loss and migration issues. Hopefully this new insight will lead to the consistent implementation of the current EU Eel regulation in all member states. According to the same member states, it is fit-for-purpose, but then you have to implement all measures and not just limit fishing.”
The Netherlands
The Dutch government endorses the importance of focusing on the recovery of eels in a joint approach with all member states, said LNV minister Schouten in response to questions from the Party of the Animals. “A total ban on all fishing is not my goal at the moment.”
Substantial restrictions have been in place since 2009. Schouten lists: a three-month closed period for all eel fisheries in the main withdrawal period for silver eel, a total ban on eel fisheries on the major rivers and a release obligation for all recreationally caught eel. In addition, in the context of the Water Framework Directive, the Netherlands is committed to removing barriers to migration and reducing eel mortality at hydropower plants.
Schouten: ,,For a species with a long life cycle like the eel, where animals only start contributing to reproduction after more than ten years, recovery is a process that takes time. Nevertheless, there seems to be a reason to further strengthen the approach in a European context. I’m also betting on this. It is important that all Member States work towards a uniform approach with measurable reduction targets for human mortality (fishing, migration barriers, hydropower plants). Now we see that the approach in the different countries still differs too much, with not even all Member States having drawn up a national eel management plan. The Netherlands has done this and has thus achieved a substantial reduction in fishing mortality in particular. Dutch efforts to further strengthen the eel approach are aimed at tackling all factors that influence eel mortality in conjunction. That means fishing for all life stages of the eel, but also migration barriers, hydroelectric power plants and pollution.”
GoodFish
At the beginning of this month, an international delegation of NGOs paid a visit to European Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius. On that occasion the petition ‘Power to the Eel’ was handed over. 
This petition is an initiative of Good Fish and RAVON, financially made possible by the National Postcode Lottery. The NGOs argue for more habitat for eels, effective fish migration facilities, clean river beds, less fishing, a quality mark for fishermen and a tougher approach to poaching.



LET'S MAKE A DIFFERENCE
HELP US SUPPORT THE RECOVERY OF THE EUROPEAN EEL