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Joint EIFAAC/ICES/GFCM Working Group on Eels


Record created 08/11/2019 | Last updated 08/11/2019
Expert Group Reports volume 1, issue 50


The WGEEL has this year adjusted the manner in which it reports data in time-series. First, read-ers should note that some data reported to the WGEEL in the most recent year are always provi-sional but are then finalised in the report of the following year. Where data have been updated from those reported in the 2018 report this is indicated in the 2019 report; and provisional data are similarly highlighted. Second, the mean of the previous 5 years data is also presented to help place the data from the most recent year(s) in context of this most recent period. The recruitment of European eel from the ocean remained low in 2019. The glass eel recruitment compared to the 1960–1979 in the ‘North Sea’ index area was 1.4% in 2019 (provisional), 1.9% in 2018 (finalised) and the previous 5-year mean was 1.7% (2012-2016); and in the ‘Elsewhere Eu-rope’ index series it was 6.0% in 2019 (provisional), 8.9% in 2018 (final) and the previous 5-year mean was 8.7%, based on available dataseries. For the yellow eel dataseries, recruitment for 2018 was 26.4% of the 1960–1979 level and the previous 5-year mean was 16.6% (2013–2017); 2019 data collection is ongoing so data not available at time of writing. Statistical analyses of time-series from 1980–2019 show that there was a change in the trend of glass eel recruitment indices in 2011; the recruitment has stopped decreasing and has been in-creasing in the period 2011–2019 with a rate statistically significantly different from zero. The highest point during the period from 2011–2019 was in 2014. Landings data were updated according to those reported to the WGEEL, either through re-sponses to the 2019 Data call or Country Reports, or integrated by the WGEEL using data from its previous reports. When data are absent and presumed missing for a country or year, a pre-dicted (reconstructed) catch is used to account for non-reporting, but this is not a complete solu-tion and therefore even the raised estimates should be considered as minima. Here we present both reported and reconstructed values. Glass eel fisheries within the EU take place in France, UK, Spain, Portugal and Italy. Glass eel landings have declined sharply from 1980, when reported and reconstructed landings were larger than 2000 tonnes, to 62.2 t in 2018 (final, full reporting), 58.6 t in 2019 (provisional, no reconstruction), and a mean for the previous 5 years (2013–2017) of 56.5 t (full reporting). Yellow and silver eel landings are not always reported separately, so are combined here. The WGEEL has reconstructed the time-series to fill in some gaps in reporting. Reconstructed total commercial landings of yellow and silver eels were around 20 000 t in the 1950s to 2000–3500 t around 2009, most recently being 2393 t in 2017 (final), 2694 t in 2018 (provisional) and a mean of 2729 t for the preceding 5 years (2012–2016). The reported landings were around 10 000 to 12 000 t in the 1950s, declining to 2000 to 3000 t around 2009, and more recently being 2249 t in 2017 (final), 2375 t in 2018 (provisional, only 14 countries reported) and a mean of 2729 t for the preceding 5 years (2012–2016). Recreational catches and landings are poorly reported, so amounts must be treated as minima. Spain reports a recreational fishery for glass eel, with landings estimated as 0.9 t for 2019 (provi-sional), with a mean of 2 t for the preceding 5 years (2014–2018). Recreational landings for yellow and silver eel combined were 543 t for 2016 (ten countries reporting), 195 t for 2017 (eight coun-tries reported) and 148 t for 2018 (five countries reported). Overall, the impact of recreational fisheries on the eel stock remains largely unquantified although landings can be thought to be at a similar order of magnitude to those of commercial fisheries.