The recent decline of European eel (Anguilla anguilla) and no signs of recovery has brought attention to the biologically unsustainable exploitation of the stock. In September 2007, the EU has adopted the Council Regulation 1100/2007 establishing measures for the recovery of the European eel stock. However, eel are still fished intensively for human consumption while aquaculture and restocking rely exclusively on the supply of glass eels caught each year. A controlled production of eel larvae is ever more urgent. The objective of PRO-EEL is to develop standardised protocols for production of high quality gametes, viable eggs and feeding larvae. The approach is to expand knowledge about the intricate hormonal control and physiology of eels which complicates artificial reproduction. This knowledge will be applied in the development of suitable methods to induce maturation considering different rearing conditions. Knowledge about the gametogenesis and maturation pattern will be developed in small scale tests and applied to establish standardised fertilisation procedures. New knowledge about functional anatomy of embryos and yolksac larvae will be applied to develop suitable feed. Protocols for larval production will be tested in full scale experimental facilities managed in collaboration with a qualified SME. The integrated protocols and technology development will be evaluated relative to the output of healthy embryos and yolksac larvae. Larval feeds will be developed towards pioneering first-feeding in European eel larvae, which will be a major breakthrough and promising step towards a self-sustained aquaculture. The strength of the project is its interdisciplinary approach and the unique expertise of the consortium. PRO-EEL brings together leading institutes in eel reproduction complemented by excellence in disciplines filling gaps in knowledge and technology. A tight collaboration with the aquaculture industry promotes the applicability of developed technology.
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