Accelerating the recovery of the European Eel

Fisheries Council December Decision on Eel

“After discussions started on Sunday afternoon, the EU Fisheries Council has finally reached agreement on additional measures to protect European eel in the coming year, as part of the overall agreement on fishing opportunities for 2024.
The Commission had proposed a continuation of this year’s six-month eel fishing closure in EU waters, including coastal waters, estuaries and lagoons, during the peak migration period. The proposal already included a 30-day allowance during the main migration, referring to socio-economic considerations. For glass eel, another 30 days of fishing was to be allowed if landings were used solely for restocking under the eel regulation (1100/2007).” 

At SEG we welcome all attention that the endangered eel attracts. So often we hear the infamous words ‘its only eel’ or even worse ‘it does not matter it is only eel’. Consequently eels continuing presence in amongst the big fish items that surround CFP is welcome. Sadly though this discussion is largely framed by marine management thinking which is not surprising in this CFP context. 
At SEG we recognise the value of eel being a small part of CFP’s annual process but truly regret the marine lens that is forced in front of all our eyes. Eel is such a weird fish, such a breaker of rules and crosser of boundaries – it is so very complex and difficult to comprehend. So illusory.  So unsuited to CFP protocols.
At SEG it is therefore not surprising that we believe in the primacy of the Eel Regulation. A unique policy offering the highest possible legal direction and protection that the EU can provide.  It is truly remarkable that a single species has attracted this level of political importance – but it is not surprising given that recovery will need half centuries of time and bold action across so many interlinked legislative areas embracing so much of the fresh and marine water environment. It is not just a fisheries issue of stocks, nets and quotas.  
At SEG we therefore welcome that all MS will be revising and improving their Eel Management Plans for submission to EU-COM by end June. Full implementation of the Eel Regulation is the way forward for eel recovery. Meanwhile SEG would like to see an interim 2030 protection level target and an advisory council to improve learning and effectiveness of all eel management and protection methods.