Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) undertakes ongoing research and monitoring of eel populations every year. My Department has recently approved funding to facilitate continuation of this research. Ireland introduced its Eel Management Plan under EU Regulation 1100/2007 in 2009, following approval by the European Commission. In addition to annual research and in line with the requirements of the EU Regulation, Ireland’s Plan was reviewed in 2012, 2015 and 2018 and each review included a detailed scientific and research element. Further reviews will be undertaken as required by the Regulation.
The European eel is a panmithic stock – a single stock across the entire continent - which spawns in the Sargasso Sea before arriving into European rivers and lakes. The distribution is naturally random between countries.
Ireland follows the objective of the EU Regulation which aims to ensure that escapement of eels to the sea should be at 40% relative to “pristine conditions” - those pertaining in the early 1980s which was the reference years selected.
The latest advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) is that the species remains critically endangered and that recruitment of juveniles in the Northern part of the Atlantic is currently at 1% relative to pristine conditions. This advice states that anthropogenic (man-made) mortality should be kept at zero or as close to zero as possible.
Given the very long maturation period of each generation of eels in Irish waters, the impact of the very low annual recruitment of juvenile eels for more than 25 years means that recovery of the stock will only be sustained over the long term by commitment to consistent and equally long term conservation measures.