C.J. McGrath (Convener)
Inspector and Engineer
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
Dublin 1, Ireland
At the Fifth Session of the European Inland Fisheries Advisory Commission (EIFAC), Rome, 1968, it was advocated that a meeting of appropriate experts be held to pursue the eel study.
At that time Dr. Deelder was engaged in the preparation of his Synopsis of Biological Data on Eels. By now you will all have seen the final draft of Dr. Deelder's valuable synopsis. It is of great value to us in this Consultation, not only to have the advantage of using this valuable document in our work, but also the presence of the author to take part in our deliberations.
Following the Rome meeting, a series of exploratory discussions was held both by the EIFAC Secretariat and by your Convener with Professor Dr. v. Brandt as to the possibility of holding such a consultation at the Headquarters of the Federal Research Board of Fisheries in Hamburg. This culminated in a formal invitation to hold such a Consultation which was presented on behalf of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany by Prof. Dr. K. Tiews to the EIFAC Sixth Session in Poland in May, 1970.
However, in drawing up the programme for this Consultation, it was realized that it would not be possible to cover all aspects of the subject in the time available and that it would be necessary to concentrate on one item only. Eel Fishing Gear and Techniques was selected. The urgent need to deal with all other aspects was appreciated but it was realized that this could not be done in the time available.
For instance, there is much to be learned from the various sources of information available about the biology and physiology of the eel at the various stages of growth with particular emphasis on the behaviour patterns and reaction to known stimuli at each stage of development which could be availed of and employed to further their growth and facilitate their capture.
There is a great need for information on practical methods of assessing the eel productivity of various kinds of water on which could be based a programme of rational exploitation of existing water bodies and many new water areas. This would, of course, embrace such matters as acquiring data on the natural mortality of eels at the various stages of growth. Fundamental to the whole exercise would be also the acquisition of information on the principles of artificial re-stocking with elvers to ensure maximum sustainable production at the most economic cost.
We would also like to learn more about a rational design of eel storage basins for long term storage and, in particular, about the optimum environmental conditions necessary for operational efficiency.
We would also wish to learn more about the best methods of preparing and processing eels for human consumption including such matters as optimum cold storage conditions. Another matter of increasing importance is how to remove undesirable tainting of the flesh of the fish.
There is much to be learned about the transport of eels by tanker-trucks as well as by well-boats.
One aspect likely to grow in importance in future years and, therefore, deserving of serious attention at the present time is eel pond culture with supplemental artificial feeding with particular reference to eel culture methodology in heated effluents.
However, as has already been stated, we do not have the time on this occasion to deal with all these matters in the exhaustive way that would be desirable, but it is suggested that any expert attending this Consultation who possesses any practical experience of any of these subjects makes available the information he has acquired on the subject. Short statements of established practice in the matter would suffice at this stage. The more detailed statements and supporting evidence could await another meeting.
Our main objective, therefore, at this meeting will be to learn all we can from each other's field of competence and, in particular, from our distinguished panel of lecturers about the various kinds of fishing gear the development of which resulted from lengthy research. We will all wish to learn more about the factors governing the use of each gear in particular circumstances. We will also wish to learn all we can about the various kinds of material that can be employed for the manufacture of eel fishing gear, and the merits and faults of each in various situations.
Finally, we would wish to learn more about the theoretical basis of design of eel nets and of their supporting structures which are necessary in the various conditions in which they can be employed from those of still waters to those of fast flowing streams. So without further ado, let us begin our task so that at the end of our deliberations, as much information as possible will have been accumulated which I hope will result in the increased production of eel in interested EIFAC member countries.