Over 40 years of exporting….
We have been catching and distributing glass eels from the River Severn since the early 1970’s. This region has a tradition of catching elvers that has been documented for thousands of years.
Our first site was based on a barge in Gloucester docks. We have seen some very major changes in the glass eel business over the last 40 years: In the late 1960’s a non sustainable rush of exports to Japan, followed by a strong demand for glass eels for aquaculture in Europe. Then in the 1990’s there was an unprecedented demand for glass eels from Asia. The next challenge was to introduce a management strategy to develop a sustainable glass eels fishery in the Severn River Basin. In 1983/1984 there was a very marked stepped reduction (60% in one season) in glass eel recruitment.
By the late 1980’s France had emerged as a major competitor in the market place in Europe, supplying glass eels much earlier in the year before there was any possibility of catching English fish. We had moved into a building, still close to the River Severn which enabled growth and more capacity. But, at this time we lost a substantial market share to the French suppliers, which was a very serious situation that was not going to be tenable for long. However, just as the prospects for the European market started to deteriorate in the early 1990’s new customers appeared from China. It had been more than 25 years since we had last shipped any eels to Asia. Prices increased beyond expectations and sellers became more prevolent. Then fortunately for the eel, in 2010, the Eel Managment Plan for the UK had been implemented and all exports outside of the EU was made illegal.
In 2012 we moved to our current site supported by the European Fisheries Fund on the banks of the River Severn and we have continued to introduce sustainbable fishery practices and solutions. This move was to reduce capacity from 15,000kg to 1,500kg, reflecting the objectives of the Marine Management Organisation, not only to protect the fishery for future generations but also to maintain the economic, cultural and social values for the local community. The majority of our eels are now sold to Europe for restocking projects. With a proportion for sustainable aquaculture. We also have our sister company, Civelle Durable, in Royan, France. We are both commited SEG certified farms and buy from SEG certified fisheries.
The hand netting technique in the UK has remained the same all these years and is now the only method of fishing to be legal. From this perspective the United Kingdom is unique. It is not possible to find anywhere else in Europe where hand netting is the only method of fishing.