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Eels Are Not Cuddly, But They Need Conservation Support

Eels have been painted as the villainous fiend in most underwater movies. For readers of a certain age, blame Little Mermaid. For the rest of the world, it is proving hard to embrace the snake-like creatures.

The eel population has dramatically declined in the last several decades. Reports indicate that the population of glass eels, specifically, have declined by more than 95% since the 80s

Jenni Grossmann, a fisheries science for ClientEarth, warned the Guardian that eels were on the brink of extinction. “[The EU’s] science-defying reluctance to close all eel fisheries might well turn out to be the final nail in the coffin of this critically endangered species.”

The EU has set — and reduced — quotas for cod, plaice and Norway lobster. It increased the fishery take for for hake, anglerfish, megrim and horse mackerel — in some waters.

Grossman said that it is going to take more than paperwork to make the desired change.

“Every year, fisheries ministers ignore increasingly dire warnings, set excessive quotas, experts react with dismay, and the cycle begins again next December,” she said.

“The longer they do this, the more stocks will end up classed as vulnerable, endangered or worse – it’s not rocket science. This year, the timing is particularly poignant: all this flies in the face of leaders’ proclaimed ambitions to protect biodiversity at Cop15 this week.”

The EU is set to decide on what limits it will place on eel harvesting. Many experts expect that it will not be enough to curb the current situation. Others hope that they will also announce a restocking plan to re-invigorate the population.

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