ICES has advised that when the precautionary approach is applied, there should be zero catches in all habitats in 2023

ICES has advised that when the precautionary approach is applied, there should be zero catches of European Eel in all habitats in 2023

The International Council for the Exploration of the Seas, (ICES) has advised that when the precautionary approach is applied, there should be zero catches of European Eel in all habitats in 2023.

This applies to both recreational and commercial catches and includes catches of glass eels for restocking and aquaculture.

ICES had made the recommendation based on ecosystem-based management considerations that:

  • all non-fisheries related anthropogenic mortalities should be zero.
  • the quantity and quality of eel habitats should be restored; this includes restoring connectivity and the physical, chemical, and biological properties of the habitats.
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On the stock development over time, ICES says:

“The status of European eel remains critical. Indices of both glass and yellow eel recruitment strongly declined from 1980 to 2011. Index values correspond to the recruitment as a percentage of the 1960–1979 geometric mean.  Glass eel recruitment in the “North Sea” index area was 0.5% in 2022 (provisional) and 0.6% in 2021(final). In the “Elsewhere Europe” index series it was 9.7% in 2022 (provisional) and 5.5% in 2021(final). The yellow eel recruitment index for 2021was 19% (final) of the 1960–1979 geometric mean. Time-series from 1980 to 2022show that glass eel recruitment remains at a very low level.

“ICES cannot assess the exploitation status relative to maximum sustainable yield (MSY) and precautionary approach (PA) reference points because the reference points are undefined. The recruitment geometric mean between 1960–1979 is considered as a likely limit reference point (Rlim). The 1960–1979 geometric mean recruitment is considered as a likely limit reference point (Rlim). Given that the current recruitment estimate has been below Rlim for many years, it is assumed that current biomass is below a likely Blim. Therefore, while stock-size reference points are also undefined, it is considered likely that the stock size is well below potential biological limit reference points.”

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ICES advises zero catch limits on European Eel in all habitats for 2023

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