Euro­pean Com­mis­sion pro­poses ban­ning eel fish­ing in Baltic Sea

Baltic News Network - - News -

The Euro­pean eel is a crit­i­cally en­dan­gered fish species. Their pop­u­la­tion has de­clined 95% in the past three decades. Ef­forts to pro­tect the eel have so far been un­suc­cess­ful. This is why stricter mea­sures are needed to safe­guard the en­dan­gered species. To pre­vent the species from go­ing ex­tinct, the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion pro­poses ban­ning eel fish­ing in the Baltic Sea.

Ex­perts say the Euro­pean eel is a unique fish that has lived from pre­his­toric times. It has even sur­vived mul­ti­ple ice ages. Un­for­tu­nately, hu­mans have had a dev­as­tat­ing im­pact on them. A ban on eel fish­ing may be the chance to save this species.

Ex­perts of World Wide Fund for Na­ture say that such a de­ci­sion from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is wel­come. Nev­er­the­less, fur­ther steps should be con­sid­ered as well. This means es­tab­lish­ing a full ban on eel fish­ing in Europe and North­ern Africa. Also, ev­ery EU mem­ber state would have to per­form in­ter­nal mea­sures to pre­serve eels, such as es­tab­lish­ing mi­gra­tion cor­ri­dors for eels around hy­dro­elec­tric dams.

«Be­cause eels pro­duce off­spring only in Sar­gasso Sea, ar­ti­fi­cial breed­ing is out of the ques­tion. When­ever eel off­spring are re­leased in Latvia’s wa­ters only means they will be caught on their way to Sar­gasso Sea and later trans­ported back to Latvia. Eel pop­u­la­tion in Latvia will not grow from that,» says WWFN Baltic Sea pro­gramme man­ager in Latvia Elina Ko­late.

She con­tin­ues: «Ex­ces­sive fish­ing, il­le­gal trade, cli­mate change, pol­lu­tion and frag­men­ta­tion of rivers threaten eels. If we want to pre­serve this species, we have to ban its fish­ing in the Baltic Sea un­til the pop­u­la­tion re­cov­ers suf­fi­ciently. It is not enough for EC to es­tab­lish a ban – ev­ery mem­ber state, in­clud­ing Latvia, should take mea­sures.»

Paula Čurk­ste/LETA

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