• The European eel fishery in 1993 and 1994

      Moriarty, C. (Marine Institute, 1996)
      A group of 17 experts, representing 9 member states of the EU, undertook in March 1995 the Concerted Action AIR A94-1939 entitled Enhancement of the European eel fishery and conservation of the species. This paper presents the results of the first phase of the study which aimed to compile a database of information on the eel in the 9 states. The total annual yield of European eel was estimated to lie between 20,000 t and 30,000 t. Glass eels account for 4% of the total by weight and 33% by value. The value of the catch as paid to the fisherman was estimated at 180 M ECU and with value added as 375 M ECU. Manpower engaged fulltime in eel fishing was relatively low, fewer than 500 individuals. Numbers engaged part-time totalled at least 25,000. Although rarely providing the mainstay of a fishing community, the eel made a sociological contribution out of all proportion to its cash value. Yields greater than 5 kg per hectare were attained in a variety of habitats throughout the region. The highest yields per hectare recorded were 324 kg in one Italian coastal lagoon, 75 kg in another, 52 kg in a French Mediterranean lagoon and 40 kg in a Norwegian river and lake system. The yield from most fisheries was less than 5 kg per ha. This implied that proper management could greatly increase yields throughout the geographical range of the species. Between 2 and 3 billion young eels were captured annually, of which more than 95% were killed for consumption at that young stage, while less than 5% were harvested at later stages or left to contribute to the breeding stock. The implication was that adequate glass eels existed for a greatly enhanced stocking programme. Many eel fisheries had declined in the course of the previous twenty years, the principal factors appearing to be recruitment failure and inadequate management measures. Eel fishing can be undertaken with a low capital investment and provides important opportunities for work in communities where unemployment is high.