Accelerating the recovery of the European Eel

French and Japanese authorities demonstrate their determination to counter eel poaching and trafficking

French authorities demonstrate their determination to counter eel  trafficking

04 November 2019, Brussels. On Monday 28 October 2019, one woman and one man were stopped with 60 kilogram live glass eels at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport on a transit stop from the city of Toulouse. Additional suitcases were seized but a third person escaped. In total, 90 kg were intercepted en route to China that day.
Only two days later, the court in Bobigny near Paris sentenced the pair to a 10-month suspended prison sentence and a fine of 7,000 euros each for smuggling and crimes against biodiversity. The rapid prosecution implies the French authorities are determined to stop Europe’s greatest wildlife crime. During the same week, glass eels were intercepted in suitcases at airports in Spain and Portugal.
The Sustainable Eel Group congratulates the French authorities and is hopeful that Europe-wide effective enforcement will be able to significantly reduce glass eel trafficking to Asia during the upcoming 2019/2020 season.
The expected reduction of glass eel trafficking should be reflected in the increased availability of glass eels for both, the legal European consumption and restocking markets. SEG studies show that only about half of the restocking requirements are met. Stopping or slowing glass eel trafficking may result in more for restocking.
The case has been covered in a broad range of media including Le Figaro (France), South China Morning Post (China) and CNN (US).


Japanese Fishery Agency announced to raise the fines for glass eel poaching

On 31 October 2019, the Japanese Fishery Agency announced to raise the fines for glass eel poaching. The maximum fine for illegal fishing of Japanese glass eels will be raised from ¥100,000 to ¥30 million starting in 2023, and the maximum period of imprisonment will be increased from six months to three years.
During the most recent glass eel fishing season, about 2.2 tons were reported to the Japanese authorities, but 3.7 tons were transferred to Japanese aquaculture ponds. The difference of 1.5 tons is attributed to unauthorized fishing.
The Sustainable Eel Group welcomes the raise in fines and increased maximum imprisonment in regard to glass eel poaching in Japan.