In 2007, Sweden implemented new rules to protect the stock. (Photo: fishsec.org)
Survival of Swedish eels rises by 30 pc
Thursday, December 16, 2010, 03:30 (GMT + 9)
The number of severely threatened eels removed by Swedish fishers has fallen by almost 30 per cent since stern protection measures were enforced in 2007, the national Board of Fisheries informed.
Eels stocks have been in dire shape in Sweden for many years: millions of eels migrated up the Göta Älv River in the 1950’s compared to 100 in 2008, according to the Board. Fifty years ago, tens of thousands were found in the Nyköpingsån River, while only 10 in 2008.
For three years, scientists have not found any glass eels in the Skagerrak and the Kattegat.
Board of Fisheries Director-General Axel Wenblad stressed that Sweden was one of the first member states of the European Union (EU) to get approved a national management plan requested by the Commission in 2008. The goal is for 40 per cent of the eel in EU waters to be able to return to the Sargasso Sea to reproduce.
|Glass eel. (Photo: fishsec.org)
In 2007, Sweden implemented new rules to protect the stock.
The most radical national plan was Ireland´s, including a total eel fishing ban. Sweden´s rules varied between waters.
Apart from lowered catches, an important part of the plan was cooperation with the private energy sector to cut eel deaths resulting from the turbines of the nation’s massive water power plants.
The plan´s objective was to achieve a 90 per cent survival rate of the silver eel stage among eels maturing in Swedish waters, the last phase of the species’ evolution, by 2013 with an evaluation run annually to assess whether extra measures are needed.
Even though this year’s evaluation shows a 30 per cent drop in mortality since 2007, the Board will propose new restrictions, including a closure of all eel fisheries off Sweden´s west coast.
The EU eel management plan will be appraised in the Union agenda for 2012, including the controversial issue of if re-stocking can help strengthen the stock. Scientists are uncertain regarding whether re-stocked eels can find their way out to coastal waters and then back to the Sargasso sea to reproduce.
Per the Swedish management plan, 765,000 glass eels were set out in 2009, and more than twice that this year, to reach 2.5 million in 2012.
Wild eel stocks throughout Europe are half the size they were just a few years ago. European scientists are attempting to understand why by researching the eel’s biology and migratory patterns.
Scientists are tagging eels that then go on their journey of around 5,000 km to their spawning grounds. Researchers hope the data will offer insight to help ensure the well-being of this species.
- European eel fishing suspended for 10 years
- PRO-EEL project aims for self-sustainable aquaculture
- Eel fishing banned until next year
- French baby eels flown to Finland to replenish Baltic stock
By Natalia Real