Wild sexually matured eels for selective breeding. (Photo: pro-eel.eu)
European scientists analyse progress in eel farming
Wednesday, March 28, 2012, 01:00 (GMT + 9)
Scientists from various countries will analyse the latest progress of Pro-Eel project, which studies the possibilities for raising the European eel (Anguilla anguilla), in the framework of a meeting organized by the Group of Aquaculture and Biodiversity of the Institute of Animal Science and Technology of Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV).
The European eel is on the list of species threatened issued by the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) because its natural population is declining significantly.
Therefore, the European Union (EU) adopted measures for its protection. Currently, its trading in countries outside the European bloc has been banned. Besides, the EU encourages research for the possible reproduction of the specimen in captivity.
During the first meeting of the Pro-Eel project, held at the headquarters of the High Technical School of Agricultural Engineering and the Environment of the UPV, experts agreed that the main obstacle to the reproduction of the species in captivity is the complex hormonal control mechanism inhibiting the eel growth, the newspaper El Pais reported.
The inhibition is established during the silver plating process to prepare the eels for their migration to the spawning area in the Sargasso Sea.
Therefore, the main goal of the project is to achieve the production of larvae capable to feed themselves for a few days after hatching.
After two years of research, scientists made progress in some aspects such as food and the selection of reproducers, protocols for hormonal induction of males and females, hormonal control of reproduction, fertilization and production of viable eggs and larvae.
The next step lies in getting the development of experiments on larval rearing and food for reproducers.
So far, the experts at Pro-Eel have managed to increase the production of viable eggs and larval survival: after completing their embryonic development, larvae were able to live up to 25 days after hatching.
In that sense, Jonna Tomkiewicz, project coordinator and researcher at the Technical University of Denmark, said that "the results of early experiments show a high potential for producing viable larvae."
Francisco Asturiano, researchers at the UPV, added that significant progress has been achieved through different methods to get the reproduction of the European eel in captivity, and although there is a lot to be done, he considers they are "in the right track."
- Eel farming advances
- PRO-EEL project aims for self-sustainable aquaculture