On Wednesday 26th June 2019 the UK’s National Wildlife Crime Unit will be hosting a meeting of enforcement agencies from across Europe and North America at the Natural History Museum, London. This meeting, organised by Europol in conjunction with the NWCU, will be examining the illegal trade in eels and looking at how enforcement can continue to combat this major wildlife crime.
Since the 1970’s, the numbers of eels reaching Europe is thought to have declined by about 90%. Today they are protected as an endangered species by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). They are also named on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.
The illegal trade in eels remains a serious threat to the recovery of the European Eel, It is believed that 100 tonnes (equates to approximately 300 million individual eels) are illegally trafficked every year from Europe to Asia, accounting for almost one quarter of the total number of glass eels (juvenile eels) entering European waters every year. It is one of the greatest wildlife crimes on the planet in terms of traded individuals and market value.
Continued enforcement action is essential in addressing this major wildlife crime that is believed to be worth 3 billion Euros every year.