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Tougher Rules Needed to Save European Eel Stocks

12 September 2013

EU - Fresh legislation is urgently needed to save the European eel stock, which scientists report has declined by at least 95 per cent in the past thirty years, says Parliament in a resolution voted on Wednesday 11 September.

MEPs urge the European Commission to table a draft law by March 2014, including sanctions against EU member states that are slow to provide the data needed to assess the stock.

"The eel is critically endangered and the member states are doing too little to save it. That is why the European Parliament calls on the Commission to present a new legislative proposal aimed at the recovery of European eel. The new law must close the loopholes in the current legislation which have led to the continued overfishing and unsustainable trade in eels," said rapporteur Isabella Lövin (Greens/EFA, SE).

MEPs ask the Commission to evaluate current restocking measures by 31 December 2013, paying special attention to how much they really contribute to eel recovery. Restocking, a key feature of national eel management plans, involves adding eel from another source to existing populations.

The results of this evaluation must feed into the Commission's new legislative proposal which must aim, "with high probability", to achieve the recovery of the European eel stock, says the voted text.

Furthermore, Parliament also voted to oblige EU member states to report more often on the impact of eel stock management measures: once every two years instead of once every sixth year. Member states which do not comply with the reporting and evaluation requirements would be obliged to halve their eel fishing effort.

The European eel's decline is probably due, inter alia, to overfishing, pollution, obstacles to its migration up rivers or even changing ocean currents, as eel migrate from the ocean up rivers and back again. Attempts to reproduce eel in captivity have yet to achieve commercial success.

The resolution was approved by 427 votes to 249, with 25 abstentions.


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