Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Eels in deep trouble

What's long, skinny, and endangered? No, it's not Michael Jackson

Europe's eels are in deep trouble, and that situation is getting some ink now that Dutch fishermen are joining eels in the decline.

Eels are fascinating creatures, and unfortunately their complex lifecycle makes them perhaps uniquely vulnerable to overfishing, habitat damage, and other human-caused ills afflicting fish. (That's right, eels are fish).

Eels live most of their lives in rivers, but then the adults swim out to sea and spawn mysteriously in places people can't find. Baby eels drift in the ocean for nearly a year and then return to rivers as tiny and nearly invisible "glass eels" that are an expensive delicacy when eaten whole and sometimes while still alive (right).

Dutch fishery managers are responding to the plight of the European eel, thanks perhaps to eel protection campaigns by WWF and others. Fishermen wish for a different type of recovery plan, one that leaves them free to fish, of course.

Eel politics are not new, eel riots date back to the 1800s when fishermen battled police trying to break up a type of eel tug-of-war according to the New York Times. Hmmm...eels seem to invite strange behavior in people. Maybe there is a Michael Jackson connection.

4 comments:

Dr Dan said...

I think the eel is my favourite fish. Well one of my favourites. When I used to work at an underwater aquarium I would love feeding the moray eels on SCUBA and long finned eels. We have the same problem in NZ with the fishing.

Animal Fact Finder said...

I also love eels. When will we learn that too much consumption of any species or resource will never lead to any good?

El Pescador said...

Save the eel - http://www.wayupstream.com/2010/03/there-is-often-overlooked-fish-out.html

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