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Parliamentary questions
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30 August 2018
Answer given by Mr Vella on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: P-004105/2018

The Commission takes concerns about all anthropogenic impacts on the European eel stock very seriously. Under Regulation (EC) No 1100/2007 (Eel Regulation)(1) Member States have an obligation to establish and implement eel management plans to achieve in the long term the escapement to the sea of 40% of the adult eel biomass that would have escaped without human influence. This regulation, however, does not contain a general obligation for Member State to ensure the circulation of eels. The Eel Management Plans of Ireland were approved by the Commission(2) in 2009. The Member States' third progress reports under the Eel Regulation will be assessed by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) in 2018 and in a context of the ongoing evaluation of the Eel Regulation(3).

Although the European Eel is not covered by the Habitats Directive(4) eels occur in Natura 2000 sites in Ireland, including the Lower River Shannon(5). Thus eels can benefit from conservation and protection measures. Commission guidance on hydropower and Natura 2000(6) addresses the barrier effect of dams and suggests good practices to ensure the flow of migratory fish which can also benefit the eel populations.

In addition, the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) imposes an obligation to ensure that water bodies have a hydrological regime consistent with the environmental objectives set by the directive(7). Member States are primarily responsible for taking measures to implement the directive. The recent Irish River Basin Management Plan mentions that initial steps are being taken to improving fish passage in the Shannon catchment, notably via the creation of a Steering Group to consider appropriate solutions(8).

The Commission will continue to monitor Member States' progress in the implementation of relevant provisions.

(1)Council Regulation (EC) No 1100/2007 of 18 September 2007 establishing measures for the recovery of the stock of European eel.
(2)C(2009)5962 final of 30.7.2009.
(5)Natura 2000 Site code IE0002165.
(6)‘Guidance document on the requirements for hydropower in relation to EU nature legislation’, http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/natura2000/management/docs/Hydro%20final%20June%202018.pdf )
(7)For further details on ecological flow: https://circabc.europa.eu/sd/a/4063d635-957b-4b6f-bfd4-b51b0acb2570/Guidance%20No%2031%20-%20Ecological%20flows%20%28final%20version%29.pdf
(8)https://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/rbmp_report_english_web_version_final_0.pdf (page 82).

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