Accelerating the recovery of the European Eel

SEG Working Closely with French Colleagues

The SEG Chairman Andrew Kerr recently expressed support for conservation action in France.

Letter to Madam le Minister:

I am writing to introduce you to the Sustainable Eel Group (SEG). We are a Europe wide stakeholder group drawn from Conservation, Science, Industry and Commerce including fishermen (Some 500 members from 19 countries). Our purpose is to accelerate the recovery of the European Eel.

Our governance is such that the fishery and industry has only one third of the votes in the Board room. My own background is in Conservation in the UK. SEG is science and conservation led.

SEG resources and activities are expanding all the time with conservation programmes focusing on unblocking migratory pathways, habitat improvement and restocking. For people SEG has developed in the UK the eels in the class room with over 100 schools participating. For research SEG has commissioned CEFAS to carryout fisheries independent studies on glass eel recruitment. For the industry SEG leading scientists and conservationists have developed the Sustainable Eel Standard and 75% of the European industry has taken this up with about 20% successfully assessed as meeting the standard.

It is still early days and SEG has come a long way.

The French contribution to the eels recovery is already very significant however there is much more to do. The eel’s migratory pathways all the way down the Atlantic sea board (and elsewhere) remain blocked in the name of flood defences by huge man made banks or dykes, concrete foundation and walls with steel lock gates. France receives from the Atlantic perhaps 80% of the glass eel recruitment and these fish play a vital part in restocking the waters of Europe. Making the optimum use of this stock is critical to the Europe wide recovery programme.

SEG is after your help on three counts:

  1. To continue to allow a controlled and limited commercial glass eel fishery. Any pressure you can bring to help reduce wasteful mortality will be helpful. Fisheries by meeting the SEG standard will have massively reformed.
  2. To lead the process of unblocking the migratory pathways in France. There are 1500 high priority sites.
  3. To continue to fund the French restocking programme until the migratory pathways are opened up.

SEG is pressing all countries to actively implement their eel recovery plans. It is one European Population and the eel needs effective and coordinated conservation action on a continent wide scale.