European Eels in Crisis After 95% Decline in Last 25 years

Posted on May 5, 2009  Comments (1)

Eels in crisis after 95% decline in last 25 years

But the action the Environment Agency is about to take is upsetting those who rely on the eel for their livelihoods. A ban on exporting eels out of Europe – they are a popular dish in the far east – is proposed, along with a plan to severely limit the fishing season and the number of people who will be allowed licences.

It seems pretty obvious we have over-fished the oceans. Without effective regulation we will destroy the future of both the wildlife and our food source.

Related: Fishless FutureSouth Pacific to Stop Bottom-trawlingNorth American Fish ThreatenedChinook Salmon Vanish Without a Trace

The eel remains one of the world’s most mysterious creatures. It is generally accepted that European eels – Anguilla anguilla – are born in the Sargasso Sea near Bermuda.

As leaf-like larvae, they are swept by the Gulf Stream towards Europe, a journey that may take a year. When the larvae reach the continental shelf they change into “glass eels” and in the spring begin to move through estuaries and into freshwater.

The animals develop pigmentation, at which point they are known as elvers and are similar in shape to the adult eel. Elvers continue to move upstream and again change colour to become brown or yellow eels.

When the fish reach full maturity – some can live to 40 and grow to 1m long – they migrate back to the ocean. Females are reported to carry as many as 10m eggs. They return to the Sargasso Sea, spawn and die.

One Response to “European Eels in Crisis After 95% Decline in Last 25 years”

  1. Add Over-Fishing to the Examples of How We Are Consuming Beyond Our Means » Curious Cat Science Blog
    October 4th, 2012 @ 11:10 pm

    The normal pattern has been to turn to more aggressive fishing methods and new technology to try and collect fish as over-fishing devastates yields. This, of course, further devastates the state of the resources and makes it so recovery will take much much longer (decades – or more)…

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