EU request for technical evaluation of the Eel Management Plan progress reports
ICES has evaluated the EU Member States’ progress reports against the escapement biomass target defined in Regulation (EU, 2007; also referred to as the Eel Regulation) and the theoretical lifetime anthropogenic mortality threshold implied by the escapement target. ICES notes major limitations in reporting with biomass and mortality indicators being reported for less than 50% of eel management units (EMUs).
No overall progress has been made in achieving the EU-defined biomass escapement target: the target was met or exceeded in only 23% of the reporting EMUs (as compared to 41% in the first year of reporting), and a consistently increasing trend in escapement was detected in only one EMU.
No clear patterns for mortalities were observed. Mortality was lower in 59% of the reporting EMUs compared to the first year of reporting, but it increased in 29% of them.
Given the limited number of cases in which the situation is significantly improving, ICES is unable to identify which measure types should be advised in order to progress towards the objectives of the Eel Regulation. The effectiveness could not be evaluated for the majority of individual measures either because they were not designed to be evaluated directly by biomass and/or mortality indicators and because associated metrics were insufficiently monitored.
ICES advises that while the number of measures implemented and the number of EMUs meeting the management targets is certainly useful to evaluate the level of implementation of the Eel Regulation in the EU, it is considered as insufficient to assess the effects of the Eel Regulation on the whole eel stock.
ICES provides a suite of suggestions to improve: i) reporting, ii) measuring progress, and iii) evaluation of reference points. Efforts in implementing measures should be focused on those that by definition have a high probability of reducing mortality and increasing escapement.
Published under the auspices of the following ICES Steering Group or Committee