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Halting the erosion of biodiversity - the case of eels

The population of European eels has continued its decline to the point where the current level threatens the survival of the species.

"This situation is the result of numerous factors such as the lack of access to certain rivers due to dams, the disappearance of favourable habitats for the species, high mortality in hydroelectric turbines during the trip back to the ocean, the high sensitivity of the species to chemical contaminants, intensive fishing at all ages of the fish and, finally, the emergence of a parasite that disturbs the ocean migration of adult eels", explains Bénédicte Valadou, Migratory fish manager at Onema.

An ambitious European regulation, targeting recovery of the eel stock and requiring that each Member State submit a management plan to save the species, was voted in September 2007. "France sent in its management plan on 17 December 2008. Onema mobilised significant resources with other stakeholders to draw up the plan, under the auspices of the Fisheries ministry and the Ecology ministry".

The measures deal with the different types of fishing, obstacles to the passage of eels, restocking, habitat restoration and contamination. The European commission has three months to render its opinion on the submitted plans. The Member States are required to implement the management plans approved by the commission, starting on 1 July 2009 or earlier if possible.