Eel fishing stop – when eels are not fished
Swedish eel fishing will be completely stopped during the coming winter months. The greatest impact will be in the Öresund, where eels usually wander past on their way out of the Baltic Sea during this period.
The stop will be effective from 1 October to 31 March 2024, and the decision was made following a new EU regulation, which mandates a six-month ban on eel fishing, instead of the previous three months.
Previously, Swedish eel fishing was only banned from October to December. The decision of the Norwegian Sea and Water Authority to extend the fishing ban during January to March has been criticized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) because hardly any eels are caught during this time.
The WWF would have preferred to see a ban during August-September, when most fishing occurs. However, Inger Dahlgren, the head of the Swedish Maritime and Water Authority’s fisheries regulation unit, believes that October to December are the most critical months to protect migrating eels from being caught, so that they can have free passage to the Skagerrak and Kattegatt, where fishing for eels is completely prohibited.
She agrees with the WWF’s assessment that most eel fishing in Swedish waters occurs during August and September. However, she questions why the stoppage period is set from January to March instead of being extended during that peak season.
“We believe that we can allow a certain amount of fishing while ensuring long-term sustainable management. However, this requires careful balancing of various factors,” she explains. She further notes that Swedish eel fishery has declined by over 95 percent since 2007.
The authority’s assessment takes into account ecological, economic, and social factors, she emphasizes.