Mission Impossible Almost Achieved – working together to save the European Eel
See below the views of Eel leaders drawn from Science, Conservation and Commercial interests who are all working together for the recovery of the European Eel.
‘The eel now has a brighter future than it had for so many decades before’
so thinks Dr Willem Dekker the eminent eel scientist who has been working on the eel case for the past 32 years. He believes that one of the vital factors in the story of the eel’s decline has fundamentally changed and it is not an obvious physical one but a human one – he continues
‘for the first time in so many decades, people come together from all walks of life to collaborate and to make recovery happen. I have had the early leading role in the conservation of the European Eel, in spite of the many difficulties – and I am proud that this “Mission Impossible” is now happening indeed!’
‘While it is clear that the eel stock has suffered a catastrophic decline, we know that the only way back to recovery is by means of adequate protection, now and everywhere. Even though this protection does not give full guarantee of successful recovery, it is the best thing to do. Achieving this is only possible, however, with full multidisciplinary collaboration of many parties, as – for instance – currently pursued in the Netherlands’.
‘Doing nothing is not an option’
says Alex Koelewijn the Chairman of the DUPAN foundation which was formed to take responsibility for securing the eel’s future. Alex is leading the reinvention of the industry and fully understands the possibilities and extreme difficulties surrounding the eel. He says
‘without increased protection and effective action for recovery there will be no future and people working in the industry can now see how sustainable production not only helps the industry and the eels but also helps create a healthy future for people – they do care. It is why we work so closely with scientists and conservationists not only on environmental actions but also on the improvement of management practices and scientific knowledge so that they can all contribute to recovery’.
‘The European Eel is our flagship species’
says Cy Griffin the programme leader from the European Association of Wetlands International, which is part of the global organisation whose purpose is the conservation and restoration of wetlands.
‘Wetlands play a crucial role for eels particularly during the transition phase from salt to fresh water’ he continues ‘that mankind has been draining wetlands for centuries and only recently fully understood their vital cleaning and balancing role within the natural world – vital too for helping to absorb the impacts of climate change. People throughout history have enjoyed eating eels and by sustainably managing the resource, it is possible to aid the recovery of the species while at the time creating benefits for people and nature. A goal of Wetlands International is that wetlands are restored for the role they play in local livelihoods and so sustainable and responsibly managed fisheries are integral to their future. These are complex issues that transcend national and social barriers so working together is the only way forward’.
‘SEG is all about finding solution’
says Andrew Kerr (Chairman). Together with the three, Andrew forms the leadership team of the Sustainable Eel Group (SEG) this is the European body seeking to coordinate and inspire effective action. The final words go to Andrew.
‘The natural world continues to decline from the ever increasing and remorseless impact of mankind. We have a choice; we can either spend our time debating monitoring figures and baseline data or we can put our energies into finding solutions. For SEG we are all about finding solutions. The eel industry in the Netherlands as represented by DUPAN are doing great things and is playing a highly responsible role in bringing about the recovery further more without the eel stewardship programme which is a trigger funder progress with the innovative science, conservation and management programmes would be impossible.’