Faire Mieux Que La Nature – the History of Eel Restocking in Europe

Thursday, August 21, 2014: 8:20 AM
206B (Centre des congrès de Québec // Québec City Convention Centre)
Willem Dekker , Department of Aquatic Resources, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SLU, Drottningholm, Sweden
Laurent Beaulaton , Pôle GEST'AQUA, ONEMA, Rennes, France
Young eels, recruiting from the ocean towards Europe, are most abundant along the Atlantic coast of France. Since 1840, attempts have been made to redistribute them from their areas of highest abundance to other areas/countries and further inland. This ‘restocking’ has been troubled by technical constraints (mode of transport, maximum distance covered alive), by wars (Franco-Prussian war, World War I and II), and in recent decades by shortage of supply due to the general decline of the eel stock all across Europe. Though objectives and procedures changed considerably over the decades, the recurring aim has been to improve production, and in that way: to do better than nature.

We review the historical development and contrast the achievements to the objectives. Except for the period 1952-1990 in Eastern Europe, restocking has probably added a relative small quantity to the natural production. As successful as restocking might have been for some areas, it has not markedly changed the overall trends and distribution patterns or halted the decline of the stock and fisheries. Poor post-evaluation, frequent technical innovations, and a constant renewal of the countries and people involved, have kept the promise for a better future alive for 175 years.