Accelerating the recovery of the European Eel

ICES – ‘Fishery at current level probably has little direct influence on aquatic ecosystems’

ICES has reported three years in a row of increasing glass eel recruitment and illustrates that in the 2013 – 2014 season the levels attained matched those of 30 years ago. However, and understandably, caution remains in such a long lived and little understood species.

Andrew Kerr Chairman of the Sustainable Eel Group welcomed this report saying:

“It is utterly right that attention, investment and human effort should now focus on the non fishing factors notably Hydropower and Water Pumps.”

Referring also to last week’s report from UK water regulator OFWAT, he continued:

“It is great news that here in England the Water Companies have just committed £75m to screening and other eel passage solutions. SEG calls upon other European economies to take similar effective action to save the eel.”

The ICES group of scientists met in Rome in the autumn to consider the latest information relating to European eel populations. Rome was chosen so that other non EU countries that have the European Eel could join the deliberations and work together on solutions. SEG understands that at the Rome meeting, staggeringly high levels of glass eel recruitment were reported in both Egypt and Morocco in 2014.

The ICES report also recognises that translocating and restocking glass and juvenile eels can contribute to yellow and silver eel production, albeit mankind still does not know the source(s) of escaping silver eels that actually make it back to the Sargasso Sea to breed.

Despite the encouraging trends of increased recruitment in recent years, SEG continues to urge caution when forecasting data for individual years.

Andrew Kerr continued: “We very much hope that numbers will continue to increase every year, but who can tell with this mysterious creature.  Last year’s huge recruitment coincided with near perfect conditions – a long wet and mild winter with favourable winds and currents. It’s important that regardless of specific volumes, European countries continue to strengthen their Eel Management Plans by implementing the environmental actions whilst continuing the adoption of sustainable fisheries practices.”


ICES Report 2014