Accelerating the recovery of the European Eel

Improvements for eel trade reporting at CITES CoP18

Between 17 and 28 August 2019, the 183 Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife Fauna and Flora (CITES) met in Geneva for the 18th Conference of the Parties (CoP18).
On Monday 19 August, the Parties adopted the draft decision in E-CoP18-063 on the matter of eels after minor amendments proposed by the European Union and the USA. 

In accordance with E-CoP18-063, Range States of the European eel (Anguilla anguilla) are encouraged to: 
a)  submit any non-detriment finding studies on European eel they have undertaken to the Secretariat for inclusion on the CITES website; explore the different approaches that might be taken for making non-detriment findings for European eels traded as fingerlings (FIG) compared with those traded as other live eels (LIV); collaborate and share information with other Parties regarding such studies and their outcome, especially where the Parties share catchments or water bodies; seek review and advice from the Animals Committee on any non-detriment findings for European eel where appropriate;
b)  develop and/or implement adaptive European eel management plans at national or sub-national (or catchment) level, with defined and time-bound goals, and enhance collaboration within countries between authorities and other stakeholders with responsibilities for eel management, and between countries where water bodies or catchments are shared;
c)  share information on stock assessments, harvests, the results of monitoring and other relevant data with the Joint Working Group on Eels (WGEEL) of the European Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture Advisory Commission, the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas and the Central Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (EIFAAC/ICES/GFCM), so that a full and complete picture of the state of the European eel stock can be established;
d)  develop measures or implement more effectively existing measures to improve the traceability of eels in trade;
e)  provide the Secretariat with information regarding any changes to measures they have in place to restrict the trade in live ‘glass’ or fingerling European eels; and
f)  provide information to the Secretariat on the implementation of this Decision to allow it to report to the Animals Committee and Standing Committee, as appropriate.

Directed to range States of non-CITES Anguilla spp. in international trade (particularly A. rostrata, A. japonica, A. marmorata and A. bicolor)
Range States of non-CITES Anguilla spp. in international trade are encouraged to:
a)  where appropriate, implement conservation and management measures, such as adaptive eel management plans, enhanced collaboration within countries, between authorities and other stakeholders with responsibilities for eel management, and related legislation to ensure the sustainability of harvests and international trade in Anguilla spp. and make these widely available;
b)  collaborate and cooperate with other range States on shared stocks of Anguilla spp. to develop shared objectives for these stocks and their management, improve the understanding of the biology of the species, conduct joint programmes of work and share knowledge and experience;
c)  establish monitoring programmes and develop abundance indices in range States where none exist. For ongoing programmes, identifying opportunities for expanding to new locations and/or live stages would be favourable;
d)  improve traceability of Anguilla spp. in trade; and
e)  provide information to the Secretariat on the implementation of this Decision to allow it report to the Animals Committee and Standing Committee, as appropriate.

In addition, the Animal Committee submitted recommendation E-AC30-Com-05-R including fundamental improvements for the use of CITES specimen codes for the reporting of eels trade. CITES specimen codes are used for reporting trade in CITES-listed animals to the CITES trade data base. Under the current CITES codes system, there was a lot of confusion about the reporting of different life stages, commodity types and units. The major recommendation can be summarized as:
For European eel (Anguilla anguilla), it is essential that
  • live eels of <12cm length in trade are distinguished from other live specimens by reporting them as fingerlings (FIG);
  • other live specimens should be reported as LIV;
  • It is also desirable that the code for meat (MEA) should be used for trade in eels destined for human consumption;
  • In all cases, Parties should report trade in live specimens (LIV), live fingerlings (FIG) and meat (MEA) of European eel by weight and not as number of specimens. The net weight of live specimens should be recorded and not the combined weight of eels and the water in which they are transported.

A presentation by SEG’s Director of Scientific Operations given at the Cop18, summarizing the problems and proposed improvements concerning eel trade, can be accessed here and watched as video here (-29 min to -22 min).

On 21 and 22 August, Wildlife Enforcement Networks (WEN) from around the world met to further strengthen collaborative efforts against wildlife crime during their 3rd Global Meeting which was hosted by International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) Illegal trade in live glass eels and eel products was highlighted by European agencies as well as Interpol and NGOs. Read the press release here and look out for the full report coming soon!

ASYCUDA eCITES BaseSolution has been launched. The CITES Secretariat and UNCTAD have jointly developed a cloud-based electronic permit system offering automated support for permit application, processing, issuance and reporting.
This electronic permit solution is targeted primarily to the 183 parties to the CITES Convention that do not have access to electronic permit management systems. The eCITES BaseSolution system is intended to be maintenance free for the Management Authority (MA), and does not require advanced technical expertise or IT systems in the MAs.
If you are a CITES management authority, please go to and apply for access. 

Tags: Eel, Science