Should be a great elver season but eels future on the menu still uncertain

My last newsletter entitled "2019 may be the year eel slips off the menu" definitely needs updating.

In it I explained how Defra and the Environment Agency were making tentative proposals to a selection of the industry's stakeholders, that post-Brexit a quota system may be enforced and restrictions on where and what markets the elver, eel fishery and its processors can supply. Continuation of those talks is about to resume, and without a proper representation from fishermen and processors (those most affected by any decision made) it's hard to understand how an equitable solution can be achieved. It's also strange that our proposals to build the first commercial eel farm in the UK, information common knowledge to Defra and the EA, seems to have excluded us from any of these consultations.

The good news is that the elver recovery continues unabated. Perfect fishing conditions in France has led to a bumper season where fishing was suspended for many weeks as processors struggled to cope with large catch numbers. The UK fishery that starts on the 15th February and elver fishermen have every reason this year to feel optimistic. The fishery is dependent on numerous factors but one of the most important is favourable big spring tides. Its unusual for the stars, moon and earth to perfectly align themselves but this year we have two massive spring tides within the first 2 months of the elver season. These big spring tides (22nd February 4*, 22nd March 5*) better known as the Severn Bore have star ratings depending on their size. The 5 star on the 22nd March is the biggest we will have seen since 2017 and a spectacle well worth coming to see. More info times and dates can be found on www.severnbore.co.uk.

These tides, the second highest in the world, bring canoeists, kayakers and surfers from all over the world to see how far they can ride the wave that the turn of the tide creates. While watching all this surfing and canoeing madness I can’t help thinking that just under the surface are millions of elvers and migratory fish, among them early spring salmon also hitching a free ride on this tidal phenomenon, something they have been doing for thousands of years.

On a more lighter note, last week the Evening Standard reported that eels in the Thames were having to recover from hyperactive periods as a result of getting high on cocaine flushed down drains flowing into the river. I am now awaiting news of the first eel admissions to The Priory.

Natural Resources Wales, the Welsh branch of the Environment Agency, is at the moment conducting a public enquiry in Newtown around the future of leisure and commercial fishing in Wales. Proposed changes to the Welsh coracle sea trout fishery with limits on fish over a certain size being taken and the season starting on the 1st May instead of 1st March is probably the final nail in the coffin for this heritage fishery. Whatever changes are finally enforced, this year’s season will be unaffected. Hopefully floods at the start of the season and then drought from May to July like last year which ruined the fishing for all fishermen will not repeat itself this year.

It would seem that the appetite for all things vegan shows no signs of abating and the lengths one can go it to lead a vegan life are endless. Gloucestershire green energy suppler Electrocity, owned by Dale Vince and also owner of my village football team Forest Green Rovers is the only team in the National Football League that only offers vegan pies and snacks at the ground on match days. Electrocity also claims to be the only Green energy company to offer a 100% vegan energy supply. All other Green energy supply companies rely on some anaerobic or biomass energy production fuelled by animal farming, slaughterhouse waste, fish parts or animal slurry. Perhaps we should therefore have not been surprised by a request to smoke carrots as a meat replacement option. I will keep you posted on how our research and development department progresses with that one.

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