Eel Stewardship Fund

The Eel Stewardship Fund is established to help finance a large number of activities that contribute to the recovery of the eel stocks in European inland waterways and coastal lagoons. These activities include the restoration of the eels lifecycle which was disrupted by human activities during the last decades. The fund is used to move glass eels and juvenile eels from places where they would not survive and restocked them in selected healthy waterbodies. There the fingerlings can grow to healthy spawners. The fund also enables the support of the trap and transport of migrating silvereels so the adult eels can swim unharmed back to their spawning ground. Surplus for nature will be larger recruitment and further recovery of the stock.

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    The ESF is stimulating scientific research for eels to fill the knowledge gaps around this mysterious fish. The fund also co-finances projects to unblock migratory pathways. Well-regulated trade can contribute positively to the conservation of threatened species, and may be essential for human livelihoods. Therefore, ESF enables the development of traceability tools for eel by supporting the Sustainable Eel Group.
    Further the fund enables the science based development of a maximum sustainable yield (MSY) for eel fishing in all life stages, reducing bycatch, sustainable solutions for the catch and farming of eels and environmental and animal-friendly processing methods. By doing so ESF-members strive towards a sustainable conservation of the European eel and an eel industry that takes it's responsibility.
    Since 1950 the eel population has been under threat from habitat loss, pollution, natural predators like cormorants and illegal unregulated unreported (IUU) overfishing. These caused severe damage to the natural habitat and stocks of the eel.  But the biggest challenge is formed by hydropower stations, water treatment plants and pumping stations in our inland waterways, which block the migratory pathways.
Eels are born in the Atlantic ocean and then float en masse across the Atlantic to fresh water where they continue their development. However, our European coastline is now so well-protected with flood defences that young eels have great difficulty reaching freshwater and those who manage to reach fresh water will find problems like hydropower stations, dams and pumps once swimming out to sea to make the return journey to the spawning grounds.
So the eel needs help from people who love eels.



Eel and CITES

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. The European eel was included in the CITES Appendix II in order to ensure trade of this commercially important species was sustainable.

Want to help?

If we want to find out more about the eel and what we can do to help in its preservation, then we need to act now. And you can help us do that! By buying only those products that bear the Eel Stewardship Fund logo, you can contribute to the safeguarding of the eel population in Europe.


The ESF contributes to restocking projects on top of the EU restocking program with glass eels.  In the EU every year tens of millions of glass eels and juvenile eels are released in fresh water in order to increase the natural stocks.


Trap and Transport

Mature eels that want to swim downstream to their spawning grounds, are faced with blocked migratory pathways. By trap & transport ESF saves the mature eels before they reach deadly pumping stations and hydro power plants.


Scientific research

Good eel management depends on solid knowledge. That’s why ESA-members are initiating and financing scientific research. For instance, research for the reproduction of eels in captivity, conducted by Wageningen University and Marine Researc.


Eel Stewardship Association

The Eel Stewardship Association (ESA) is founder of the Eel Stewardship Fund and owner of the ESF trademark. ESA was established in 2015 by industry organisations of the Netherlands and Germany and it is hoped it will be adopted elsewhere. The main goal is to accelerate the eels recovery in Europe and adopting measure to ensure sustainable use of the stock. ESA is an administrative organization. As the incomes of the ESF belong to the member states themselves, ESA-members carry out the actual activities.

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    The members of ESA receive money from the Eel Stewardship Fund that was generated through the sales of eels for consumption in their respective countries. Besides sales, food producers, grants and gifts raise the fund. Thanks to the Sustainable Eel Fund, the ESA-members are able to finance a vast number of conservation activities.

ESA members

ESA members

ESA was founded in December 2015. At this moment 3 countries are organized within ESA: England, Germany and the Netherlands. Other countries will soon join. If you want to know about the development of ESA in your country, use the contact form.


DUPAN is the Dutch foundation of Eel traders (NeVePaling), the Dutch Association of fish farmers (NEVEVI) and the commercial fishing organisation netVISwerk.. The foundations purpose is to achieve the recovery of the European eel. It undertakes activities that contribute to a sustainable recovery of the eel stocks in the Dutch and European inland waterways. In addition, DUPAN is working on sustainable solutions for the catch and farming of eel, for environmental and animal-friendly processing, and is stimulating scientific research for eels. By doing so the DUPAN Foundation strives towards a sustainable conservation of Dutch eel and the eel sector.


Initiative zur Förderung des Europäischen Aals e.V. (IFEA) is the German association of eel traders and eel farmers. The association’s purpose is to achieve the recovery of the European eel. It undertakes activities that contribute to a sustainable recovery of the eel stocks in the German and European inland waterways. In addition, IFEA is working on sustainable solutions for the catch and farming of eel, for environmental and animal-friendly processing, and is stimulating scientific research for eels. By doing so the IFEA strives towards a sustainable conservation of German eel and the eel sector.

Sustainable Eel Group

The Sustainable Eel Group is a Europe wide conservation and science led organisation working with partner bodies and individuals to accelerate the eels recovery.

Their aim

Healthy eel populations, distributed throughout their natural range fulfilling their role in the aquatic environment and capable of supporting sustainable exploitation for the benefit of local economies.

Their purpose

To be the respected partnership that enables and promotes the joined up conservation and management of the eel in the UK and Europe, linking all interests in an open and effective process.

Their objectives:
➢    To help deliver the objectives of the EU Eel Regulation
➢    To develop, decipher and apply sound science to inform effective decision making
➢    To influence policy makers at UK and European levels
➢    To encourage well regulated and sustainable fisheries that support local economies and communities
➢    To promote greater public understanding of the eel
➢    To be effective at seeking income and resources to progress the aims of the group


➢    The eels return to abundance
➢    For all River Basin Districts to be compliant with EU Regulation
➢    For the eel to form a viable component of the aquatic communities
➢    For healthy and sustainable fisheries

Sustainable Development

SEG has adopted and works to the United Nations Brundtland Definition. This slide is taken from the Chairman’s presentation to the Venice Conference. The issue of eel sustainability is further examined in the introduction to the Sustainable Eel Standard.

Want to join ESA and ESF?

Want to join ESA and ESF?

Want to join ESF? Pleas use the contact form.







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