The eel fishery is the most valuable commercial inland fishery in England and Wales, providing significant benefits to the rural economy. There are many concerns regarding the status of eel stocks both in the United Kingdom and in Europe. Advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) to the European Commission is that the existing fishery is not sustainable. The Review of Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Legislation and government response to the Review, published in February 2001, reinforce this concern.
To address these concerns, the Environment Agency has developed the National Eel Management Strategy following extensive consultation with the eel fishing industry, angling and conservation interests and with government. It sets out the Environment Agency's intentions for the next three years and represents a major step forward in the management of eels in this country, putting the UK at the forefront of these issues in Europe.
The National Eel Management Strategy was published in March 2001 and comprises the following sections: