Commonwealth games Gold medallist Dean Macey is supporting Crimestoppers and the Environment Agency (EA) in a bid to deal with illegal elver – juvenile European eels – fishing. As a keen angler himself, Dean is supporting a cause he feels passionate about.
He said: “It’s really disappointing that a minority of fishermen are carrying out a crime that stains what is a very honest and enjoyable job or hobby for most.”
Over the past 20 years the baby eel stocks have fallen by 95 percent.
Eels spawn in the Sargasso Sea and make their way across the Atlantic as tiny creatures using the oceans currents such as the Gulf Stream.
There are a number of factors involved in the decline of their numbers – netting, fishing and barriers to migration such as change to the currents that bring the eels across the Atlantic as young.
For the fishing industry to remain viable, this illegal activity, which competes unfairly with legitimate fishermen is being confronted.
Fishermen catch the elver in large nets and then sell their catch to elver traders in the UK, who then sell them on for restocking fish farms and fisheries across Europe.
Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) regulations, it is now illegal to export European elver outside the continent.
It is only legal to fish for elver between 15 February and 25 May in any year and fishermen must have valid authorisation. The Somerset levels is one of UK’s main eel habitats.
Illegal elver fishing is a crime committed within a small network. Therefore, the EA said, ‘If elver fishermen in the UK want to sustain our fishery they need to act now to report illegal fishing and under reported catches.”
You can help tackle this crime either by calling 0800 555 111 anonymously or via www.crimestoppers-uk.org.