Science communication


A sad day for the European eel

Text: Henrik Svedäng

Today was a sad day for the European eel and future conservation of our biological diversity. The eel stock has suffered a number of environmental hazards such as damming and destruction of eel habitats, and, above all, intense fishing throughout Europe.

During Monday’s EU ministerial meeting under the Fisheries Council, the main topic was the proposal from European Commission to ban eel fishing all EU basins. According to reports from Politico, the proposal was opposed by the EU ministers. Up until last Friday, Sweden was in favour of a ban. However, due to a coalition of conservatives and nationalists, the Swedish Government lost their support for a more sustainable eel management in the Swedish Parliament. The EU commission was therefore eventually left without support from any Member State. 

Conservation of the eel is a very clear case. The European eel is a critically endangered species. According to the scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) all anthropogenic impacts, including fishing, should be “reduced to – or kept as close to – zero as possible”.

According to officials, EU ministers in negotiating with the Commission on a political statement that could include a commitment to adhere to national targets for preserving the European eel, Politico reports. The statement could include national commitments to further reduce the number of eels getting caught or killed by dams and power plants.

The Councils’ final agreement is expected to come on Tuesday.