Accelerating the recovery of the European Eel

ICES Special Request Advice concerning fisheries impacts on eels in marine waters

ICES Special Request Advice

Northeast Atlantic
Published 8 May 2017

EU request to provide advice on fisheries-related anthropogenic impacts on eels in EU marine waters

Advice summary

ICES provides advice on fisheries-related anthropogenic impacts on eel in EU marine waters, particularly as it relates to achieving the objectives of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the EC Eel Regulation (EC, 2007), based on seven questions posed by the European Commission. The responses to these questions are elaborated on below.

  1. ICES considers that, given the current status of the eel stock, the prescribed 50% reduction in marine catches/efforts is not likely to achieve the objectives for the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) as they only apply to exploitation by marine fisheries of the European eel.
  2. ICES advises that the values of current reported biomass of escapees are uncertain and incomplete and not suitable to provide stock-wide estimates by main maritime area or sea basin. However, for the reporting Eel Management Units (EMUs), escapement biomass ranged from 0% to 140% (140% in heavily restocked areas) of the reported pristine biomass estimates, averaging 25%.
  3. ICES advises that catches in marine waters can be quantified, but the effect on the spawning potential and stock recruitment cannot be estimated.
  4. ICES advises that none of the measures proposed in the EU request to reduce eel fisheries in EU waters seaward of the baselines would be enough to achieve the 40% escapement biomass target.
  5. ICES advises that fishery-specific management measures aimed at reducing fishing mortality for both yellow and silver eel in the marine environment would have a positive impact on the stock. ICES advises that measures for silver eels are more likely to have the most immediate effect on the potential spawning stock.
  6. ICES could not identify any management measures for human activities other than fisheries that could be taken in the marine environment seaward of EMUs to protect eel escapement in support of the recovery of the stock.
  7. ICES advises that glass eel fisheries have a negative impact on the recruitment and subsequent adult biomass, and the impact may be significant.

VIEW full ICES Special request advice