The breadth of experience of the SEG members meant that there was the ‘know how’ within to immediately set up governance and appropriate structures to enable a virtual organisation to thrive. The generosity of members and their parent organisation to give their time and resources has enabled SEG to start to influence the eel recovery programme in the UK and now with its continental members across Europe too.
The relative collapse in glass eel arrival numbers and the overall decline in adult population has caused alarm across Europe and led to the European Commission’s Regulation 1100/ 2007 for the eel’s recovery. The causes of this decline are considered multi factorial and include Oceanic and climate change, blocked migratory pathways, turbine mortality, loss of habitat, pollution and over fishing. Similar problems are also thought to be the causes of the decline for other eel species across the world.
The Conservation programmes of work has centred on the building of the habitats model to show the estuaries, rivers, lakes and wetlands of England and Wales, the eel population distributions, to highlight the barriers to migration including pumps and to identify the best sites for restocking.
SEG members led by the Association of Rivers Trusts have come together to create a coherent joint programme of work running to many millions of pounds to the European Fishing Fund to support the unblocking of the migratory pathways, habitat restoration, stocking data and research. The overall aim of all this work is to accelerate the increase in silver eel escapement so that the European Recovery’s Programme of 40% is rapidly achieved.