The first of the Regional Advisory Councils RAC for fishing has responded to the stakeholder consultation request on the ICES 2021 Advice as follows:
“This advice is in response to the request made by the letter sent by Director General Charlina Vitcheva (Ref. ARES(2021)7633619- 10/12/2021) regarding the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) advice published on 4 November 2021 for the entire natural range of European eel (Anguilla anguilla).
The MEDAC does not share the EC’s concern about the ICES advice of 4 November 2021 forthe entire naturalrange of European eel (Anguilla anguilla)1 . The change in formulation is related to a will from ICES to harmonize its various advice, and in no way reflects a drastic change in the eel stock. The methodology used does not currently allow all the mortality factors affecting eels to be considered, and the rewording of the advice cannot therefore be used to implement additional management measures on eel fisheries.
The ICES wording “zero catches” is related to the application of the precautionary approach as defined by ICES. In the ICES nomenclature, eel is assessed as a category 3 stock, with a current biomass level considered to have a significant probability of being below a biomass limit Blim. According to ICES guidelines, for category 3 stocks with a biomass level below Blim, ICES applies the precautionary approach, which states that catches should be reduced to zero (ICES, 2021). Thus, this change in wording does not reflect a significant change in the status of the eel stock compared to previous years, but simply an application of the ICES precautionary approach.”