EU adopted a management framework for the eel stock in 2007 via EU regulation (EU 1100/2007). The objective of the management framework is the protection and sustainable use of the stock. With the objective to rebuild the eel stock Norway decided in June 2009 to cut the eel quota by 80% in 2009 and to carry out an experimental fishing at a very low level in 2010.
Management AdviceManagement considerations
In the 1970s, recruitment of glass eels was still at average levels. This indicates that SSB was not limiting the production of recruits during this period.
The eel stock is scattered over a multitude of inland and coastal waters with divergent characteristics. Anthropogenic pressures, such as fishing, barriers to migration (including intakes and turbines), pollution, habitat loss, etc. vary between river basins. Therefore, management plans prepared under the auspices of the EU Regulation should address anthropogenic stresses that are locally important. Interim recovery levels, more stringent that those defined in the EU Regulation, should also be considered in the development of management plans. Candidates for interim recovery levels are discussed in FAO/ICES (2008).
The EU Regulation makes a portion of glass eel catches available for stocking, which may involve translocation of eels between river basins. It is unlikely that the 40% recovery objective of the EU Regulation can be met primarily through stocking, since the total catch of glass eels is well below that required. Moreover, the contribution the glass eels used for stocking make to the future spawning stock will be reduced if: (a) there is some capture and translocation mortality, (b) there are more anthropogenic stresses in the river system in which they are stocked than in the source river and (c) the stocked eels are not able to migrate to spawning grounds and contribute to the spawning portion of the stock. As noted above, ICES is concerned about the use of glass eels for stocking, and it does not endorse this aspect of the EU Regulation. However, recognizing that it is allowed under the Regulation, stocking should be limited to unpolluted waters with low pathogen burdens, and exhibiting minimal other anthropogenic impacts, including fishing. Procedures to prevent the introduction and spreading of parasites and diseases should be applied, in accord with European fish disease prevention policies. As stated in the ICES Advice 2008: “
…large-scale stocking should not be allowed unless a scientific evaluation demonstrates that the potential escapement of silver eels will be enhanced.”
It is important that monitoring of stock size and recruitment be continued and further enhanced so that future stock development can be measured and the efficacy of eel management plans can subsequently be quantified and evaluated. Arrangements must be made to make monitoring data accessible and compiled in a form for international analysis. Following the implementation of eel management plans in July 2009 (although some have been delayed), national reports from Member States on their implementation practices are expected in 2012. Following this, the first post-evaluation of the regulation is expected.
The escapement level of at least 40% ’pristine’ set by the EU regulation is below ICES proposal for a limit reference point of 50% for the escapement of silver eels.Ecosystem considerations
Habitat alteration, including barrier to eel passage and deterioration in water quality (contaminants, diseases and parasites) contribute to the anthropogenic stresses on eels and also affect their reproductive success.