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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2016

Faire mieux que la nature? The History of Eel Restocking in Europe

Dekker, Willem; Beaulaton, Laurent;

Abstract

Young eel, 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 the areas of highest abundance to other countries and farther inland. This 'restocking' has been troubled by technical constraints (e.g. mode of transport and maximum distance eel can be shipped alive), wars (e.g. the Franco Prussian War and World Wars One and Two) and, in recent decades, by shortage of supply due to the general decline of the eel stock all across Europe. Though objectives and procedures have changed considerably over the years, the recurring aim has been to increase production and, in that way, to 'faire mieux que la nature'. We document the historical development of these efforts from their inception, and contrast the achievements to the objectives. Except for the 1952-1990 period in Eastern Europe, restocking has probably added only slightly to the natural production. As successful as restocking might have been locally, it has not markedly changed the overall trends and distribution patterns or halted the general decline of the stock and fishery. Poor post-evaluation, frequent technical innovation and a constant renewal of the countries and people involved have kept the promise of a better future alive for 175 years.

Keywords

Eel; Anguilla; glass eel; bootlace; restocking; stocking; fishery; technical development; natural resources; international cooperation; development and protection; enhancement and recovery

Published in

Environment and History

2016, volume: 22, number: 2, pages: 255-300
Publisher: WHITE HORSE PRESS

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Resources
Beaulaton, Laurent
National Institute of Agricultural Research (INRA)

UKÄ Subject classification

History
Fish and Aquacultural Science
Ecology

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3197/096734016X14574329314407

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/77224