ICES confirms: no overall progress in European eel recovery and major limitations in reporting

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01 Jul

On 30 May, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea published the results of its evaluation of the national progress reports on implementation of their Eel Management Plans, requested by the European Commission. The evaluation showed that the recovery target for the endangered European eel is not being met. In fact, the EU is further away from achieving it today than in 2012. In addition, data reporting remains too poor for ICES to provide accurate advice to reverse the trend.

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the main intergovernmental maritime science organisation, has evaluated the EU Member States’ 2021 progress reports on eels Management Plan in response to an “EU Special Request for Advice”. The results of this assessment raise very serious doubts about the effectiveness of the Eel Regulation which was adopted in 2007 in a bid to allow for a recovery of the species in the European Union.

Producing a realistic assessment was made very difficult as less than 50 percent of the European Union Eel Management Units (EU EMU), the EU geographical areas (river basins) used to assess eels’ population management, properly shared biomass and mortality indicators.

As for the 84 EU EMU that reported enough data, no progress seems to have been made considering that only 9 of them met the target laid out in the Regulation regarding biomass escapement levels.
 
As far as mortality rates are concerned, the Regulation has had virtually no impact, since 50 of the 84 reporting EU Member States have maintained their levels, while 20 have experienced a decrease and 10 an increase in casualties.

Given the lack of data, the general lack of improvement, and also because the majority of measures in the Regulation do not have a direct impact on biomass and escapement mortality, ICES concluded that it could not advise on measures to reverse the trend.

Based on a consultation undertaken towards the EU Member States and the advisory councils, the Commission is expected to work on proposals for further measures to be published in the autumn.
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