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Fisheries Policy | 11 May 2022

Joint NGO recommendations to the Commission on how to implement the ICES advice on European eel
Fisheries Policy
Oceans
Fisheries & Seafood
Europe
EU

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Joint NGO recommendations to the Commission on how to implement the ICES advice on European eel

European eel has been assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as “Critically Endangered” since 2008. Yet, fisheries on various life stages of this severely depleted species still continue today. As a migratory species it also faces various other threats, such as migration barriers and dams that hinder its long journey between European rivers and the Sargasso Sea. In November 2021, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has released very explicit scientific advice that “there should be zero catches in all habitats in 2022”, which “applies to both recreational and commercial catches and includes catches of glass eels for restocking and aquaculture”. Moreover ICES advised that “[all] other anthropogenic mortalities should be minimized and eliminated where possible”.

In response to the European Commission’s consultation on how to implement this advice, 21 NGOs (including ClientEarth), led by The Fisheries Secretariat, have sent detailed joint recommendations to the Commission’s DG MARE and DG ENV. In this document, we call on the Commission and the Member States to follow the very clear ICES advice to the letter. All fisheries for all eel life stages should be closed, at least until a clear and documented recovery is evident. There is also an immediate need to address other anthropogenic threats to European eel, such as loss and degradation of habitats, water pollution and migration barriers.