Eel breeding in captivity. (Photo: YouTube/UPVTV)
Eel breeding in captivity offers progress and opportunities
Monday, July 09, 2012, 01:40 (GMT + 9)
The XV Forum of Marine Resources and Aquaculture of the Galician Estuaries will be used as a framework to analyze the progress made in the research of the two emblematic species, such as the European eel and the grouper.
In the 'Aquaculture' board of the event which will take place between 10 and 11 October in Isla de la Toja (O Grove), the results achieved so far in the studies of both resources and their potential will be addressed.
Those in charge of presenting the current eel and grouper status will be María Ángeles Bruzón, from the centre of Toruño of the Andalusian Institute of Agricultural Research and Agricultural, Fishing, Food and Organic Production Training (Ifapa) in Cadiz; and Miguel Jover, director of the Aquaculture and Biodiversity Group of the Institute of Animal Science and Technology (ICTA) of the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV).
With respect to the eel, to date, and after many years of research, it has not been able to close the cycle in captivity yet.
The European eel (Anguilla anguilla) was included in the list of species under the protection of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) due to the sharp decline in natural populations as a result of fishing and impacts on the environment.
Jover said that there was great interest in knowing the critical state of the European eel populations, estimated at present in only 1 per cent of what was assumed in the 50's.
The researcher explains that aquaculture is based on the capture of eels in the natural environment so "for its production to be fully sustainable eels should be available cheaply and easily, hence also the interest in closing the eel cycle in captivity."
In 1997 the community in Valencia – a leading eel producer and consumer community -- launched the study of the resource together with an Aquaculture company from Valencia.
Meanwhile, a team of researchers from ICTA has joined the PRO-EEL project, an initiative funded by the European Union (EU) that aims to achieve the European eel breeding in captivity.
According to Jover, "the results obtained so far have allowed us to be thoroughly aware of the male reproductive biology and of the semen conservation and quality, which are useful factors for egg fertilization."
In addition, quality eel egg production was achieved and larvae that survived up to three days were obtained.
While the eel has recorded low production and a very local consumption, Jover notes that the potential the market offers can be "at national level by varying the processing or presentation form (smoked or pre-cooked), which could be widely accepted as it is the case in other northern European countries."
It could also "be exported to Japan, like the tuna," he adds. "Moreover, the change in European legislation that has banned eel exports to Asia will increase the interest of the Japanese market in this product," he predicts.
- Project to reproduce European eel in captivity includes Spain
By Analia Murias