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MEPs have urged EU countries to intensify their efforts in replenishing European eel stocks

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have called on EU countries to intensify their efforts in replenishing European eel stocks.

In a resolution adopted on Tuesday, with 487 votes in favour, 19 against, and 89 abstentions, MEPs highlighted several measures to address the challenges faced by European eel populations.

The resolution emphasised the need for a broader implementation of fish-friendly water pumps and fish ladders to facilitate the migration of eels and ensure their safe passage through obstacles like hydro-power stations. MEPs identified obsolete dams and barriers to migration as factors negatively impacting eel stocks and called for structural solutions to be implemented promptly.

MEPs also urged EU countries to address other threats to eel populations, including pollution, parasites, and predators. In cases where structural solutions for the silver eel escapement are not immediately implemented, the resolution suggests continuing with “trap and transfer” and assisted migration projects as temporary measures.

The issue of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing was highlighted as a significant problem, leading MEPs to call for better coordination among customs, police, fisheries control, and scientific bodies. They emphasised the importance of increased checks and monitoring of the Eel Regulation. To enhance transparency and traceability of glass eel catches, MEPs underscored the importance of certification schemes and called for dissuasive sanctions, along with the harmonisation of fines across EU countries.

Recognising the complexity of eel stock management, MEPs proposed the creation of a feedback mechanism to facilitate communication on policy updates. Additionally, they recommended establishing an eel-specific expert group with representatives from EU countries, the fishing sector, recreational fishers, water managers, hydro-power companies, and civil society. This expert group would advise the Commission on the implementation of the Eel Regulation.

Bert-Jan Ruissen, the rapporteur for the resolution, stated, “The adoption of our report paves the way for eel numbers to recover. Introducing fish ladders and fish-friendly water pumps will help more eels reach spawning grounds. We expect this new approach to have more effect than further limiting eel fisheries, which was the approach so far.”

The Eel Regulation, adopted in 2007, aims to achieve a 40% replenishment of eel stocks compared to pristine conditions and reduce eel mortality. Despite a significant reduction in eel fishing over the past decade, the 40% target has yet to be achieved due to habitat losses and other environmental factors. MEPs consider restocking as a necessary measure until migration barriers are effectively addressed.

 

Source: Press Release

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