Norwegian fisheries regulators have banned all fishing of the critically endangered European eel starting in 2010 and cut 2009 catch quotas by 80 percent. The Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries also has announced that all recreational fishing of European eels shall stop on July 1st.

The European eel (Anguilla anguilla) is listed as critically endangered in Norway and on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. As early as 1999, the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) warned fishery authorities about how the European eel stock was outside safe biological limits and that the fishery was unsustainable.

The Minister of Fisheries is making an important, and the only right choice, and is showing international leadership in fisheries management,” said WWF-Norway CEO Rasmus Hansson in a response to the new regulation. “Norway’s Fisheries Minister, Helga Pedersen, has used every occasion to point out that Norway is the best in the world on fisheries management, and by making bold moves like this they have probably earned the title.

WWF now hopes that the Norwegian decision will influence the European Union and its member states to do their part in protecting the European eel. As of today, eel fishing is allowed within the EU despite the grave condition of the European stock.