A joint NGO proposal to EU Ministers regarding European eel | WWF
A joint NGO proposal to EU Ministers regarding European eel

Posted on 07 December 2018

On December 17th and 18th 2018 the EU Fisheries Council (AGRIFISH) will decide on fishing opportunities for 2019 and will address measures for critically endangered European eel.

ICES has yet again repeated their advice that: “all anthropogenic impacts (e.g. caused by recreational and commercial fishing on all stages, hydropower, pumping stations, and pollution) that decrease production and escapement of silver eels should be reduced to – or kept as close to – zero as possible in 2019” [ICES Advice 7thNovember 2018]. 

We call upon the EU Commission and Member States to act accordingly in light of this advice, the same advice ICES has given for over 15 years. Last year’s Fisheries Council, agreeing on the urgency to improve the stock status and acknowledging that eel do fall under CFP and the TAC and quota regulation, decided to create a 3-month closure period for eel and agreed on a Declarationthat among a number of points specifically notes:

[…]”Understanding that the recovery of the stock requires measures in all natural eel habitats in the EU and during all stages of the eel life-cycle from the glass eel to the silver eel stage.”

Considering the content and intention of the Declaration and the scientific advice showing no recovery for the eel stock, the active fishery on all life stages of eel must be phased out until the eel stock has recovered. 
We therefore ask the Commission and Member States to:
  • list eel under prohibited species in the TAC and quota regulation decision, a prohibition valid in all EU waters and on all life stages of eel. 
  • prohibit all recreational fishing in all waters of the critically endangered eel, starting summer 2019 to give sufficient time to inform the public of such a ban. 

Regarding fishery closure periods

The agreement last year to establish a partial fishery closure period for eels above 12 cm resulted in closed fishing during the least important catch months, i.e. November to January, reducing the effect of the ban in some cases to almost zero (e.g. Germany, data from Fed. Instit. Agriculture and Food, Hamburg. 2017 catch records show only 3% of total catches during Nov-Jan).
Recently, the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) has agreed on an eel management plan based on its Scientific Advice Committees proposal. This plan and proposed fisheries closure is more ambitious than what the EU Member States agreed on last year, covering recreational fishing, all life stages of eel and in all waters. If the Council would again venture into discussions of only agreeing on a closed period for eel, the GFCM plan must be the lowest acceptable level and the closed period must be set in a more relevant way. 
If a continuation of a closure period is considered, it must be more effective and results oriented:
  • Set a fishery closure period of at least 3 consecutive months in a period that, based on historic catch records, represents at least 50% of total catches on eel.
  • A closure period shall be set relevant for both adult eel (yellow and silver eel) and glass eel separately and include all water areas and at least all estuaries and lagoons.
  • Prohibit all recreational fishing in all waters on the critically endangered eel starting summer 2019 to give sufficient time to inform the public of such a ban.  

Coalition Clean Baltic: Nils Höglund (Fishery Policy Officer) nils@ccb.se, +46 708-679 249
Fisheries Secretariat: Lindsay Keenan (Policy Officer), lindsay.keenan@fishsec.org, +46 707 100 510
OurFish: Rebecca Hubbard (Program Director), rebecca@our.fish, +34 657 669 425
Seas At Risk: Andrea Ripol (Policy Officer), aripol@seas-at-risk.org, +32 2 8930968
Swedish Society For Nature Conservation: Stina Tano (Marine Policy Officer)stina.tano@ssnc.se  +46704-411 757
WWF Baltic Ecoregion Programme: Ottilia Thoreson (Director of WWF Baltic Ecoregion Programme) Ottilia.Thoreson@wwf.se+46 8 624 74 15
-ICES Advice on fishing opportunities, catch, and effort. European Eel (Anguilla anguilla) Throughout its Natural Range. Published 7thNovember 2018 https://doi.org/10.17895/ices.pub.4601
-Council of the European Union, Proposal for a COUNCIL REGULATION fixing for 2018 the fishing opportunities for certain fish stocks and groups of fish stocks, applicable in Union waters and, for Union fishing vessels, in certain non Union waters, and amending Council Regulation (EU) 2017/127-Statements, 13780/17 PECHE 414 + ADD 1-2 -COM(2017) 645 final
-General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean Report of the twentieth session of the SCIENTIFIC ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON FISHERIES, Tangiers, Morocco, 26– 29 June 2018
Norwegian fisheries regulators have banned all fishing of the critically endangered European eel starting in 2010.
© WWF/Rudolf Svensen