In a vote in the Fisheries committee on Tuesday, MEPs have asked the European Commission to produce a new legislative proposal aimed at the recovery of European eel. "The current eel management plan has failed", states rapporteur Isabella Lövin. In addition, the committee has voted to oblige Member States to report more often on the impact of measures taken on the eel stock: Once every two years instead of once every sixth year.

”Urgent action is needed to save this endangered species, which has declined by more than 95 percent over the last three decades. All over Europe the eel is seen as a local specialty – but the truth is that eels from the Mediterranean sea to the Baltic sea belong to the same stock. We need a coordinated European effort to make sure more eels can return to the Sargasso Sea to spawn", highlights the rapporteur on eel stock recovery, Isabella Lövin (Greens/EFA, SE).

In addition, Fisheries MEPs have asked the Commission to evaluate measures concerning restocking by 31 October 2013, paying special attention to scientific advice on the conditions under which restocking really contributes to eel recovery. Restocking is a central element of national eel management plans. The results of this evaluation must feed into the new legislative proposal the Commission must table before the end of March 2014 and which, according the voted text, shall be aimed at achieving, "with high probability", the recovery of the European eel stock.

European eel is under threat for a number of reasons that include overfishing, pollution, obstacles in rivers which hinder migration or even modification of ocean currents, as eel migrate from the ocean into the rivers and than back into the sea. Attempts to reproduce eel in captivity have been unsuccessful so far.

Next steps

The draft report is scheduled for a 1st reading vote in the September plenary session of the European Parliament.