European eel stock at all-time low

According to the International Council for Exploration of the Sea (ICEA), European eel stock is at a historic low and continues to fall.

This statistic was given by Minister Pat Rabbitte in response to Oireachtas questions by Deputy John Halligan. Rabbitte was questioned by Halligan about whether the original proposals and restrictions on eel fishing “were far too restrictive” among other, related issues.

Rabbitte replied “The ICES indicated that the European Eel stock is at an all-time low and continues to decline. The returning juvenile eels are at between 1-10% of the levels pre-1980.”

He cited factors such as fisheries, turbine mortality, loss of habitat and also contaminants of eel and introduced parasites for the decline.

“Under the EC Regulation, Ireland is required to monitor the eel stock, evaluate current silver eel escapement and post-evaluate implemented management actions aimed at reducing eel mortality and increasing silver eel escapement,” said Rabbitte. The Irish EMP…outlined the main management actions aimed at reducing eel mortality and increasing silver eel escapement to the sea. The EMP included two cross-border agreements, with the Neagh Bann IRBD rivers flowing into Carlingford Lough from the Republic of Ireland and into Dundalk Bay being reported in a plan for the Eastern RBD (the Eastern Eel Management Unit) and one trans-boundary eel management plan in respect of the North Western IRBD and prepared by the then Northern Regional Fisheries Board, the Loughs Agency and Department of Culture Arts and Leisure (DCAL).

“The four main management actions in the Irish Eel Management Plan were as follows; cessation of the commercial eel fishery and closure of the market mitigation of the impact of hydropower, including a comprehensive trap and transport plan to be funded by the ESB ensure upstream migration of juvenile eel at barriers, and improvement of water quality. The Irish EMP also outlined a national monitoring programme for sampling catch and surveys of local eel stocks. Appropriate scientific assessment monitors the implementation of the plans.”

“In 2012, a review of the management of Eel in Ireland was undertaken as required by the EU regulation, including full scientific evaluation and a public consultation conducted by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI). The review of scientific and management advice and inputs from the public consultation resulted in a decision to continue with the cessation of the commercial eel fishery and closure of the market for the period from 2012 to 2015. Ireland’s eel management plan will be reviewed again in 2015.”