Eel appeal: new anguillid compendium published
by Rob Fletcher for thefishsite.com
7 October 2019
On the day that Eels: Biology, Monitoring, Management, Culture and Exploitation, is launched, The Fish Site caught up with Paul Coulson, who co-edited the book with Andy Don, to find out more about the enduring appeal of anguillids.
What inspired you to become involved in fisheries management and aquaculture in general?
I have always been interested in wildlife and the environment. This started from a very young age, when my father and I would go bird watching along the Humber Estuary; this was followed by angling from the age of nine or ten.
From there it was a natural progression to fish and fisheries management, which I studied – and have subsequently worked in all of my professional life. I am very lucky that I have been able to turn my passions and hobby into a career.
Why are eels such a compelling species?
I think it is the fact that even though we have been studying them in some detail, and with considerable scientific effort, for well over a hundred years, there are still significant gaps in our knowledge.
The lifecycle is also fascinating, with long-distance migrations to far off seas for mating, with the resulting larvae then left at the mercy of ocean currents to drift back towards the continent and the freshwater systems they will call home. In the case of the European eel they could hit land anywhere from North Africa to Sweden.
Once they get to these freshwater environments they will continue to travel on and on until they find a suitable habitat in which they will feed and grow for many years.
What inspired you to publish a book on eels?
Andy and I have worked together on several eel-focused events over the past few years and when we had the idea to host an international symposium it was suggested that the outputs would make a good book. As there hadn’t been a specialist eel text produced for a number of years Andy and I thought it would be a useful and worthwhile venture, and so here we are.
What are the main themes of the book?
The book is broken down into six chapters:
European eel, a local history
Species and regions
Research and management