BSAC report on the Fisheries Committee – Eel report

European Parliament, PECH Committee meeting, 18th July 2023

The implementation of the Eel Regulation 1100/2007

Consideration of draft report

Rapporteur MEP Bert-Jan Ruissen
referred to the report on the implementation report of the eel regulation. He referred to the hearing on eel a few weeks ago and underlined that there is general consensus on the need for a more holistic approach to eel management. The Eel Regulation is a good instrument, but its implementation can be improved. In particular, the problem of migration barriers has not been tackled sufficiently, while fishing activity has been significantly restricted. The implementation of the Regulation needs to be improved both at the Commission’s and Member State level. There is lack of reporting from Member States. In 2022, only 13 MS bothered to submit reports. Restricting coastal and marine fisheries activities seems to be the focus of the eel management and this is a unilateral approach. He underlined that eel is also affected by other factors. There is a need to consider socio-economic consequences of management measures. He referred to a number of recommendations in the report. There is a need to eliminate migration barriers, in order to make the rivers passable, by introducing by-passes. Pumps in hydropower stations need to be replaced by more fish – friendly pumps. Governance needs to be improved. A special eel advisory council should be established. Illegal trade in glass eel needs to be eliminated. He looked forward to hearing comments from shadow rapporteurs.

Dutch MEP: She congratulated the rapporteur on his excellent report. She underlined that restricting fisheries has reached the limits. She emphasised that migration barriers need to be eliminated and the illegal trade in glass eel restricted as these are the main pressures. Sustainable certification is needed. Data collection must be improved in a cross-border fashion. An eel advisory council is worth considering.

Portuguese MEP: She praised the rapporteur for a very constructive approach in his report. She underlined the need for adapting plans to national conditions. The legal tool is well designed but has never been implemented extensively. There is a need to improve the implementation by Member States. Public opinion does not understand how unique eel is. This message should be communicated to wider audience.

German MEP: There is a need to look at non-fishing reasons for mortality such as pollution. There is a need to properly consider restocking. There is not much sense if it is done just to fish. There is also a need to focus on illegal trade.

Italian MEP: She underlined that fisheries closures are a good measure and will contribute to improving the stocks. Eel at various life stages need to be protected. She also mentioned predation by cormorants as an important mortality factor.

Spanish MEP: He underlined that measures had been too restrictive for fishers. Other measures are needed to tackle other factors of mortality. Some other industries than fisheries are also responsible for the collapse of the eel. The socio-economic consequences of the measures put in place have not been studies. In consequence of these measures, small companies will go bankrupt. Fishers pay the price – this is not fair.

A representative of the European Commission explained that for the Commission, the Regulation is fit for purpose. Actions are dealing with impacts (river barriers, hydropower plants etc.). Marine Action Plan also includes actions on eel. Water Framework Directive needs to be better addressed and implemented. Managing fisheries alone is not a solution. The role of ACs in eel management is important. The Commission is working with the Member States to improve the reporting on the implementation of the management plans. Control also needs to be addressed as there are important gaps.

Rapporteur MEP Bert-Jan Ruissen thanked for the support given by the shadow rapporteurs to his report. He noted with satisfaction that there is general consensus around the room. There is agreement that it is important to think what can else be done to improve the survival of this species. Eel catches have dropped in recent years and there is a slight upward trend in the eel population. Clearly, the management plans need to be improved to take account of other pressures on eel than fisheries. There is a need to work together with fishers. And also focus on illegal trade.

Christensen, vice chair of PECH invited the MEPs to provide amendments to the report. He informed that the vote on the eel report will take place on 24th October.

End 10:50

Watch full meeting here:

Date Posted: July 18, 2023

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