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Institute of

OF Baltic Sea Fisheries


Catch and release mortality of eel

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© Thünen-Institut
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DCF (Data Collection Framework): Mortality of eel released by anglers

European eel (Anguilla anguilla) is an important target species for european anglers. Catch restictions and minimum landing sizes lead to high releases of recreational caught eel.

Background and Objective

The European eel stock has experienced dramatic declines, and is currently considered to be outside safe biological limits and listed as critically endangered by the IUCN. In spite of high release rates, up to now there is no information about the survival rates of released eel caught by anglers. Therefore, a combined field and laboratory study was conducted to

  1. estimate post-release survival of eel for different treatments,
  2. examine factors affecting survival,
  3. investigate the effects of catch-and-release on physical condition, and
  4. study the potential hook shedding mechanism of deeply hooked eels.


For the field study, a pond was stocked with tagged, wild-caught eels. After four weeks of acclimatization these were captured with rod and line. After release back into the pond eels were held together with control fish for 4 weeks. A comprehensive examination was performed for all eels that had died and survived to determine probable causes of death, progress of wound healing, physical condition, and occurrence of wound infections, haemorrhages and hook shedding. During the supplementary laboratory study, a subsample of deeply hooked eels were held in tanks and frequently radiographed to qualitatively evaluate potential hook shedding.

Involved external Thünen-Partners

Funding Body

  • European Union (EU)
    (international, öffentlich)
  • Bundesland Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
    (national, öffentlich)


6.2013 - 6.2016

More Information

Project status: finished


  1. 0

    van Marlen B, Olsen RE, Vold A, Arregi L, Depestele J, Ferter K, Noak T, Strehlow HV, Mehault S, Breen M (2021) Captive observations. ICES Coop Res Rep 351:64-78, DOI:10.17895/

  2. 1

    Uhlmann S, Quirijns F, Depestele J, Strehlow HV, Ferter K, Weltersbach MS, Nilsson H, Mehault S (2021) Explanatory variables. ICES Coop Res Rep 351:39-50, DOI:10.17895/

  3. 2

    Weltersbach MS (2018) Einbezug der Sterblichkeit von Rückwürfen in der Freizeitfischerei in das europäische Fischereimanagement. Rostock: Univ, Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät, 115 p, Rostock, Univ, Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät, Diss, 2018, DOI:10.18453/rosdok_id00002306

  4. 3

    Weltersbach MS, Strehlow HV, Ferter K, Klefoth T, Graaf M de, Dorow M (2018) Estimating and mitigating post-release mortality of European eel by combining citizen science with a catch-and-release angling experiment. Fish Res 201:98-108, DOI:10.1016/j.fishres.2018.01.010

  5. 4

    Weltersbach MS, Strehlow HV, Klefoth T, Ferter K, Dorow M (2017) Auswirkungen des Fangens und Zurücksetzens von Aalen in der Angelfischerei [online]. Fischerei Fischmarkt MV(4):44-46, zu finden in <> [zitiert am 05.01.2018]

  6. 5

    Weltersbach MS, Strehlow HV, Klefoth T, Ferter K, Dorow M (2017) Auswirkungen des Fangens-und-Zurücksetzens von Aalen in der Angelfischerei - Vorstellung verschiedener Versuchsansätze. Mitt Landesforschungsanst Landwirtsch Fischerei Mecklenburg Vorpommern 58:77-88

  7. 6

    Weltersbach MS, Ferter K, Sambraus F, Strehlow HV (2016) Hook shedding and post-release fate of deep-hooked European eel. Biol Conserv 199:16-24, DOI:10.1016/j.biocon.2016.04.015

  8. 7

    Ferter K, Weltersbach MS, Strehlow HV, Volstad JH, Asos J, Arlinghaus R, Armstrong M, Dorow M, Graaf M de, Hammen T van der, Hyder K, Levrel H, Paulrud A, Radtke K, Rocklin D, Sparrevohn CR, Veiga P (2013) Unexpectedly high catch-and-release rates in European marine recreational fisheries: implications for science and management. ICES J Mar Sci 70(7):1319-1329, doi:10.1093/icesjms/fst104

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