On 11 June at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council European Ministers accepted unanimously a recovery plan for the European eel. This plan has been in development since 2003 and its agreement at Council was vital if we are to see a recovery of a stock that has seen recruitment drop to 1-5 per cent. of historic level (pre-1980s).
Under the recovery plan member states must, in the long term, achieve 40 per cent. escapement of silver eel from each river basin district (or as an average across the member state) compared to the level before man's intervention. They must also cut fishing effort/catches in Community maritime waters by 50 per cent. and reserve, over time, 60 per cent. of glass (juvenile) eel for restocking in European waters.
Fishing for eel can continue if a member state can reliably demonstrate that the rivers within its river basin district allow—or a recovery plan is in place to allow—the management target to be met.
Member states must submit an eel management plan for each eel river basin to the European Commission by 31 December 2008, then have them approved by the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries, and implemented by 1 July 2009.