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France

Last month I was advised that there would be no action taken against me concerning the alleged exports to Asia.  

My arrest more than two years ago and being accused of being  the head of a international criminal organisation  was  probably one of the most severe challenges anyone might  experience in a democratic peace time environment. I cannot recommend being held in a cell in solitary confinement with no proper sanitation, the floor contaminated with urine and faeces, and a bunk that had smelly and dirty linen from the previous inmates.  For reasons unknown the French authorities started an investigation with the  presumption that I was managing the whole infra structure for exports to China using the aircraft.  It is was a frightening experience  to see the bias in the investigation  using  selective  historical events to support their presumption of guilt. For example taking selected parts of telephone conversations out of context,  my lecture tour in North Korea, trips to China and the use of the aircraft to transport glass eels. In their desperation to make the crime fit they accused us of flying to  a destination outside the EU, Iceland, and from there the glass eels would be transhipped to Asia. Fortunately there are detailed records of every flight we make so it was possible to show that the hypothesis had absolutely no merit. Phone taps started in January 2013. The investigation we estimate has so far has cost  the French state in the order of 400,000 euros.  This was a very, very brutal experience and its impact will probably stay with me for the rest of my life. In the interim exports to Asia have increased.

We live in difficult times with an ongoing terrorist threat.  It is a reminder that personal freedom in a democratic environment must still be a priority. From first-hand experience I am not sure it is possible to support the coming repressive legislation proposed in the UK which is to track terrorist activity but will also impact on the privacy of the ordinary citizen. A democratic state is quite capable of abusing its power.  

I am glad to report we are back in France this year with a new team. It is has been a challenge and a very tortuous route to register the business. Somewhat more difficult than four years ago because of local national prejudice.  

In the last two years quite a lot of the equipment has been lost and just as I thought we had resolved most of the problems and were having a final clear up of the rubbish left behind there appeared from nowhere a cache of fire arms, ammunition a few grenades and some explosive . Fortunately we discovered them before the gendarmes and were able to undertake the necessary processes to report the find and for the gendarmerie to dispose of this equipment. If it had been discovered on a routine inspection by the gendarmerie there would have been serious repercussions and I would  probably be back in prison again today.

The new team is managed my Benoît Chambon. He is a French national and an experienced aqua culturist who has worked in Scotland, Norway and Canada for two decades, first farming salmon and latterly with environmental programs to support the recovery of Pacific salmon.  I think we are incredibly lucky to find someone with this level of experience as we try to work towards sustainable fishery practices in France.  

November 15th is the start date for us in France. Not a big protection yet and still relatively expensive.  There is a positive feeling from the fisherman, their expectations are for a good season.  The glass eels are large which is usually  a good sign.  The shortage of glass eels in Asia and the Caribbean is now the driving force for prices and demand at the start of the season.  I have weekly enquiries from people with Asian accents wishing to buy glass. I was disappointed to hear that the cash purchase and unrecorded sale of glass eels in France has started so early this year.



Caribbean  


We are still wrestling with our Caribbean  project in the Dominican Republic.  The level of corruption is a real deterrent to making any significant investment in this developing country. It is a great pity because it is beautiful country with a lot of potential. The whole system rotten from the river to the point of dispatch at the airport. Threats and physical violence are the par for the course. How long this can be sustained I do not know. Nothing has come from Cuba, there are lots of Korean traders waiting in Haiti this year to collect the first glass eels.  I think  the production so far is similar to last year but competition  is fierce.  Very poor catches in the Dominican Republic

A national emergency has been declared  as a large part of the Northern coast is flooded. It is a human tragedy that oblivious to  the rest of world. The living conditions are poor and to have flooding as well makes existence very difficult. There has been incessant rain  for the month. It is impossible to find anywhere to dry personal belongings. Very different last  year  when there was a drought and some rivers did not even reach the sea.   Our facility  in Sosua  is just a few meters higher than the rest of the area and we have remained dry.

Price for A.rostrata is  now between 3000 and 3500 USD per kilo.



Asia

 

The season started in Taiwan  last month but catches have been poor. Just a 100kgs. The price per piece for A. japonica is 30 rmb, about 4 Euros or 20,000 euros per kilo.

As many of you will recall this year the exports of European eel from China to Japan should have ceased.  There was a legislative moratorium to allow stocks in China to be grown out. This has come to an end. Logically this might have reduced  the overall demand for A. anguilla in Asia.  However with the high prices of A. rostrata and A. japonica  people will be out with their suitcase once more. A new  safer routing direct to China will be preferred. Shipping through Hong Kong is now too risky.







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UK Glass Eels · 123 Hempsted Lane, Gloucester, United Kingdom · Gloucester, England GL25JY · United Kingdom

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