European Eel Remains Critically Endangered in Latest IUCN Red List

Bonn, 13 July 2020 – The International Union for Conservation of Nature has issued the latest edition of its Red List of threatened species.  Established in 1964, the Red List is widely recognized as the world’s most comprehensive source of information on the degree of threat faced by animal, plant and fungus species.  Over 32,000 species are threatened with extinction representing 27 per cent of the over 120,000 so far assessed.  

The European Eel (Anguilla anguilla) remains classified as Critically Endangered, the same category as the Northern Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis), which is listed on CMS Appendix I, and a third of Madagascar’s endemic lemur species.

CMS is in the process of elaborating an Action Plan for the European Eel, which was added to CMS Appendix II at COP11 in 2014.  Possible conservation measures for the European Eel were discussed at two international meetings held in Malmö, Sweden in 2018 and 2019, convened by CMS and the Sargasso Sea Commission.  The species is also on Appendix II of CITES, the UN body that regulates international trade in endangered species.

While there are reports that there have been increased glass eel catches this season, and the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea’s Working Group on Eels has noted that recruitment of Anguilla anguilla has risen in recent years, these positive changes have not been of sufficient strength to affect the assessment category.  It is essential that we continue to develop and implement effective conservation and management interventions that benefit this species across its range.

Matt Gollock, Chair - The IUCN SSC Anguillid Eel Specialist Group

The European Eel’s relative, the Japanese Eel (Anguilla japonica), remains in the Endangered category.  The IUCN’s Anguillid Eel Specialist Group is now focussing on assessing the American Eel (Anguilla rostrata) but publication of its findings may be delayed by the Covid crisis.

More details on the latest Red List are available on the IUCN website.

Last updated on 19 August 2020

Anguilla anguilla
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