Anguillid eel conservation: A global perspective

Fri, January 11, 2019 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM AQUATIC ECOSYSTEMS RESEARCH LABORATORY (AERL). Speaker: Dr Matthew Gollock
Marine and Freshwater Programme Manager, Zoological Society of London &
Chair, IUCN Anguillid Eel Specialist Group

Location: AERL Theatre (Rm. 120)

There is growing concern relating to the stocks of the 16 species of catadromous eels of the family Anguillidae. Further, incomplete knowledge of their remarkable life-histories hampers stock assessment, management and conservation. Anguillids breed in the ocean and feed and grow in continental waters, and as such they link both marine and inland waters and can act as a valuable indicator of the well-being of aquatic ecosystems.

Anguillids are exposed to a suite of pressures that include habitat loss/modification, migration barriers, pollution, parasitism, unsustainable exploitation, and fluctuating oceanic conditions that likely have cumulative, synergistic and/or regionally variable impacts, even within species.

The northern temperate species - Japanese, American and European eel - have shown marked declines in recruitment, population and escapement over the past 30-40 years. Equally concerning is our poor understanding of the tropical species some of which, in addition to existing threats, are beginning to be exploited, both legally and illegally, in increasing numbers due to the decline in temperate species.

Ultimately, the understanding of the biology and population dynamics of these species remains poor. Global, regional and local prioritisation and collaboration is essential to address these knowledge gaps and strengthen conservation and management initiatives.