A joint report by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and TRAFFIC highlights that trade in juvenile freshwater eels is continuing in the Philippines despite a ban being in place due to high demand in East Asia.
ZSL has worked in the Philippines for over 15 years and the study was carried out as part of a Darwin Initiative-funded study examining the role of freshwater eels in the economy and ecology of rivers in the region where much of the eel fisheries are located – the Cagayan Valley. The report provides an overview of Philippine eel catches and trade and the country’s importance at the international level for supplying juveniles (glass eels) - in 2012 and 2013, the Philippines was the source of approximately 30% of all East Asian glass eel imports. The high demand for eels from the Philippines follows a decline in abundance in species such as the European eel and Japanese eel, and legislation that affects their trade.
Owing to the dramatic increase in exploitation and price of glass eels in the Philippines in 2011 and 2012, the export of juvenile eels was banned in May 2012. However, the study indicates that shipment of eels from the Philippines has continued, illegally, despite the ban. ZSL developed the project working in collaboration with TRAFFIC and in-country government partners to assess the exploitation and trade of eels, and also better understand the role these fish play in the freshwater ecology of the region.