New standard for sustainable Eels to be launched –

New standard for sustainable Eels to be launched Published:  02 May, 2011

The European eel will soon be appearing ‘guilt-free’ on menus thanks to the development of a new sustainability eco-label, the Sustainable Eel Standard (SES), specifically designed to take account of the eel’s unique life-cycle.

The Sustainable Eel Group (SEG), a Europe wide body of scientists, policy makers, conservationists and businesses has come together to support the return of the European eel to abundance and to directly support the European Union (EU) Eel Recovery Regulation (1100/2007).

The eel has declined significantly and across the EU each Member State has had to develop an Eel Management Plan (EMP). These plans describe the recovery measures that are being taken to support the eel and include the unblocking of migratory pathways, the modifications to water pumps and hydro, the creation of wetland habitat, restocking programmes and controls to reduce fishing effort. The aim of all these measures is to increase the number of eels escaping to the Atlantic to swim the 4000 miles to breed in the Sargasso Sea.

SEG is working with partners like the Environment Agency and the Association of Rivers Trust to accelerate eel recovery and to direct the energies in ways that have maximum effect. One such initiative that goes beyond the Eel Recovery Regulation is to reform fishing practices across Europe by promoting the adoption of the Sustainable Eel Standard (SES).

The SES has taken over a year to develop and pilot programmes have been run in the UK, France, Germany, Holland, Denmark and Sweden. The SES sits within the European Recovery Programme and meeting the standard will achieve significant reductions in wasteful mortality.

The SES will be launched at a gala event at Fishmongers’ Hall on 19th May 2011 where SEG Chairman Andrew Kerr will present certificates to the first successful independently assessed organisations harvesting eels in accordance with the SES.

Andrew Kerr said: “By Christmas 2011 the first Sustainable eel will be available for consumers to purchase and enjoy.”

In addition to the launch there will be display stands to illustrate the ongoing conservation work stretching across Europe that is contributing to a sustainable eel under the European Recovery Programme.