Unscreened water pumps, hydropower stations and pollution are a few of the factors contributing to declining eel stocks throughout Europe, according to the Sustainable Eel Group (SEG). It is calling for the establishment of an international body for eel management.

The SEG, a Europe-wide NGO whose mission is to accelerate the recovery of the eel, reports that on 9-10 October, EU Fisheries Ministers are provisionally scheduled to consider adoption of a European Commission proposal which would ban eel fishing in the Baltic as an emergency measure. However, the SEG believes banning a particular fishing area is not a long-term solution for effective international eel management.

The organisation points to many factors which have been contributing to declining eel stocks throughout Europe during the past 60 years, including loss of wetland habitat, pollution, water-management blocking migration pathways, unscreened water pumps, hydropower stations, and over-exploitation.

The SEG believes that a step change is needed to ensure adequate protection and sustainable use of the eel in the form of the creation of an international body. This would coordinate and promote efficient and effective protection, thus enabling sustainable exploitation with a view to ultimately achieving responsible management for a recovery of the European eel stock.