Wildlife & Biodiversity

Effective enforcement of laws, traceability needed for trade in European eels: COP19 draft decision

CITES Secretariat demands countries improve assessment of legal acquisition of eels 

 
By Shuchita Jha
Published: Tuesday 22 November 2022
Effective enforcement of laws, traceability needed for trade in European eels: COP19 draft decision Photo: iStock
Dead eel washed up on a beach during a fall storm over the North Sea. Photo: Sjo / iStock Dead eel washed up on a beach during a fall storm over the North Sea. Photo: Sjo / iStock

The draft decision of the 19th Conference of Parties (COP19) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has asked for strengthening of coordination between countries exporting and importing European eels and for improving traceability and effective enforcement measures for trade in the species.  

European eel is found in the continent's freshwaters and estuarine habitats. It has been listed as ‘critically endangered’ in the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species and Appendix II of CITES. The category includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilisation incompatible with their survival.

The CITES Secretariat demanded countries to develop and implement measures to improve the assessment of legal acquisition of eels (live and dead) in trade and aquaculture and share the information with them. 

It has also demanded countries that trade in anguillid eels report species-level findings differentiated by life stage. 


Read more: CITES COP19: India’s freshwater turtle in danger of extinction


The draft urged countries to share protocols and guidelines for reintroduction of seized live European eels to the wild with the Secretariat. 

CITES parties need to develop and implement adaptive European eel management plans at national, subnational or catchment levels, with defined and time-bound goals, the draft mentioned. 

They were also advised to enhance collaboration within countries between authorities and other stakeholders with responsibilities for eel management as well as between countries which share water bodies or catchments.

Parties need to explore the different approaches undertaken for making non-detriment findings for European eels traded as fingerlings, compared with those traded as other live eels. They were also asked to share the same with other countries, who deal in the trade of the species.

Countries dealing in the species should keep in the loop the Joint Working Group on Eels of the European Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture Advisory Commission, the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas and the Central Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean about the stock assessments and harvests of the eels for keeping proper records of the same.

A standing committee will look into the recommendations of the Secretariat and the Animals Committee for the more effective future management of harvests and trade and better conservation and management of the European eels. The standing committee will report on the implementation of the decisions and proposals by the two committees in COP20.

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