Eels - Dutch anglers furious over false catch claims

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18 May

Dutch commercial fishers claim that angling is the cause of 300 tonnes of dead eels every year. EAA's Dutch member organisation Sportvisserij Netherlands is furious about this false claim.

Dutch commercial fishers claim that angling is the cause of 300 tonnes of dead eels every year. EAA's Dutch member organisation Sportvisserij Netherlands is furious about this false claim, which is based on misuse of two studies: 

1) A biennial census by IMARES based on 2,400 anglers, who filled out a logbook of their catches. This study gives the numbers of eels caught and released, but says nothing about the mortality rate concerning released eels. 

2) An article in Biological Conservation - vol. 299, 2016, “Hook shedding and post-release fate of deep-hooked European eel”, by scientists Weltersbach, Ferter, Sambraus and Strehlow. 
The article is about an experiment with 32 eels caught on hooks, but - and that's important – the eels had all swallowed the hook! After 163 days 13 of the 32 eels had died. Summa summarum, the commercial fishers claim that the release mortality then must be 40.6 percent for ALL eels caught on hooks. Needless to say that this is a grave cheat with facts. Mr Strehlow, one of the four scientists mentioned above, commented yesterday (17 May) about this kind of use of their findings: "The study is not suitable for this kind of calculation. Our research is useless for such extrapolation. The numbers of eels examined are too few, the conditions are too specific, and lacks a control group. The study concerned only eels that had swallowed the hook." 
So, eels caught by the lip without swallowing the hook were not investigated - and they have the highest survival rate! 

Obligatory release of eels caught by anglers was introduced in 2009, on the request of Sportvisserij Netherlands. Commercial fishing for eels were allowed to continue. Now it is time to stop that, says Sportvisserij Netherlands: 
ICES advice for the last years is: “The status of eel remains critical and ICES advises that all anthropogenic mortality (e.g. recreational and commercial fishing, hydropower, pumping stations, and pollution) affecting production and escapement of silver eels should be reduced to – or kept as close to – zero as possible”. 
Sportvisserij Netherlands has taken its responsibility with an obligatory release for its members, and it is high time that commercial fishers and the Dutch government do the same. Therefore Sportvisserij Netherlands calls, together with nature and environmental organizations, for a ban on commercial eel fishing and farming. There is no such thing as sustainably caught eel, as is often wrongly claimed. The same with farmed eels: they are taken from the wild population and fattened. 

You can read Sportvisserij Netherlands’ press release by clicking here.

EAA's general assembly adopted an eel resolution in 2007, in which EAA calls for:
1. Stop, as soon as possible, all fishing for eels at all its life stages
2. Compulsory release of all eel by-catches
3. Stop all commercial fisheries for eel, with potential compensation for loss of income
4. Stop all sales and export of eels and elvers
5. Fishing for eels and elvers should only be allowed for recovery purposes (e.g. tagging and re-stocking)

* The resolution was adopted by 21 out of 27 votes. Germany voted against; Switzerland abstained. 

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