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During the floods at Gloucester.

The United Kingdom

The continuous rain in the last few weeks has been a constant worry. The river continues to rise and has over topped the banks just 350 meters from the glass eel depot. Water has been rapidly filling the field next to us. We have spent 3 days protecting the building from the floods.
Fortunately just when we thought we would have to start pumping the water out of our yard the water levels started to fall.
We have been very lucky. The building is not damaged and I do not think that these floods will have  a detrimental impact on the glass eel recruitment. The water is now falling at about 20cms a day. The temperature is 8°C and we are starting to see some glass eels in the lower estuary in spite of the flood conditions.
We all hope that the increased glass eel recruitment from last year is maintained this year. However we have to be a little cautious as in this business outcomes are often not as expected. So far we have had one good season after more than a decade of decreasing catches. One good season last year shows promise but it is too early to be certain that the sector is secure for the future. 
The same view before the floods.

We have also been making some test trawls for glass eels  in the Bristol Channel to try and get a better understanding of how and when the glass eel migration functions in the marine environment. Of course we are interested to learn if there are any measurements that can be made to give an indication of the likely population of the glass eel recruitment in any one season.
River temperatures are exceptionally high for this time of year. I therefore anticipate that   the season will start two weeks earlier this year.  Officially the season closes on May 25th. The outcome of an early start to the season in conjunction with very small tides in May will be an early closure of the season. It is unlikely that there will be many glass eels after the end of April.


The market or A. japonica is not so good for the Asian traders at the moment. There is good production of A. japonica in Taiwan, South Korea, China and Japan.  Already 35 tonnes has been caught and the season still has some weeks to run.  This compares with the total production of 15-20 tonnes for last year.
The price of A. japonica is now 550,000 JY per kilo. Last year for a short time prices were greater than 2.500,000 JY per kilo.  Even taking into account the quite severe currency fluctuations this is a significant price change. With fixed costs of eel production being virtually the same for all species you can now see why farmers are not interested in risking an investment in minor species with uncertain outcomes such as bicola, mozambica or mormorata.
There has been virtually no glass eel trade with A.rostra in the last two weeks.  Though regrettably there is still some trade with A. anguilla.   I think we should expect a significant price drop of Chinese eels ex farm. Currently prices are at 120 rmb per kilo (20 USD).  At the moment the eel viewed very much as a luxury product in China. A fall in price will return the market to a more normal situation and make the product available to a much greater market. 


Peter Wood for UK Glass Eels.
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