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Representatives of fishermen and ANSE and WWF technicians have released half a hundred eels in the Mar Menor. (Photo: WWF)

Marked eels released in Mar Menor to investigate their behaviour

  (SPAIN, 10/25/2018)

Conservation organizations ANSE and WWF released half a hundred marked European eels in the Mar Menor in order to investigate their behaviour and try to settle the many "gaps" in the species that still exist.

This week the Mar Menor has become the centre of European experts and managers of eels, participating in a conference on the species organized by the two associations. For several days, researchers, fishermen, NGOs, fisheries managers, among others, have met in San Pedro del Pinatar to shed light on this fish in order to get to know it better and support its recovery in the southeast of the peninsula.

During the next days and weeks new releases of specimens acquired by ANSE will be performed to the Fishermen's Association of San Pedro, some of which will also carry electronic tracking equipment to find out if they go to the Mediterranean.

Eels, which are critically endangered worldwide, remain largely unknown to science.

                          

                  ANSE and WWF technicians installing electronic tracking equipment. (Photo: WWF)

                       
"In the last 30 years juvenile eels may have decreased to 90 per cent and mature eels to more than half and their populations are falling alarmingly, especially due to threats such as habitat loss, overfishing and the construction of large infrastructures in the rivers that impede their migration," the two associations said in a statement.

Illegal fishing and trafficking of eels have proved to be a serious problem in recent years but not in the Iberian southeast, they add.  

            

The eel is a migratory fish that can exceed one metre in length and 20 years of age. It reproduces only in the Sargasso Sea, in the North Atlantic, off the coast of the United States. After crossing the ocean on a journey of more than 6,000 km, which lasts between two and three years, it reaches estuaries of European rivers pushed by the sea currents.

In the Mar Menor there is one of the largest European fisheries of the species, so the area is key to its conservation, with an annual volume of catches of about 24,000 kg. However, their catches have declined in recent decades.

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