The European eel (Anguilla anguilla) stock is severely depleted. According to estimates from the International Council for Exploration of the Seas (ICES), until 2011, the recruitment level of glass eels (the number of baby eel produced each year) was only 1 % of what it was before the 1980s. Despite a statistically significant increase in glass eels recruitment since 2011, the abundance of eels at all the stages of their lifecycle remains very low.
According to EU legislation, EU countries need to take measures that allow 40 % of adult eels to escape from inland waters to the sea, where they can spawn. In order to meet this 40% escapement target, EU countries with eel habitats in their territory have drawn up and are currently implementing national eel management plans at river-basin level. In their plans, EU countries propose measures, such as
In addition, EU countries which catch glass eels (juvenile eel less than 12 cm long) need to reserve 60 % of their catches for restocking within the EU. The Commission has adopted all plans submitted by 19 EU countries, plus a joint plan for the Minho River.
European eel is also listed on Annex II of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species). Based on the annual recommendations of the Scientific Review Group comprising experts from EU countries, international trade of European eel into and out of the EU is currently prohibited until the end of 2018.
Report on the outcome of the implementation of the Eel Management Plans, including an evaluation of the measures concerning restocking and of the evolution of market prices for eels less than 12 cm in length (21/10/2014)