The increasing global demand for eels resulted in declination of several eel species. While the stock of Japanese eels had drastically declined over the past few decades, the European eels had been listed under Appendix II of CITES during its 14th Conference of the Parties (COP) in 2007. Recently, the continuing high demand for eels called for attention over tropical eels, and the issue was raised during the COP17 CITES in 2016 in South Africa. Considering that Southeast Asia is inhabited by several tropical eel species, it is therefore necessary for the region to ensure that the species are properly managed and sustainably utilized. In addition, it is also anticipated that information on situation on utilization of tropical anguillid eel resources in the region would be necessary as basis for possible discussion at the forthcoming COP18 CITES scheduled in 2019.
In order to enhance the capacity of countries in the region toward improving eel statistics collection system and information on the condition of tropical eel resources, as well as establishment of management plan for sustainable utilization of anguillid eel resources, SEAFDEC proposed to the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF) to grant a budget for SEAFDEC to implement the project entitled “Enhancing Sustainable Utilization and Management Scheme of Tropical Anguillid Eel Resources in Southeast Asia.” To smoothly start off this new project just after the approval of JAIF, the Project Preparatory Meeting was organized by SEAFDEC Secretariat in collaboration with SEAFDEC/IFRDMD in Palembang, Indonesia on 9 June 2017 with the aim of providing a platform to introduce, discuss, and clarify the project components, objectives, and outputs among concerned SEAFDEC Departments (i.e. Secretariat, IFRDMD, and AQD). The Meeting was attended by Japanese experts on eels and delegates from five SEAFDEC Member Countries that have anguillid eel fisheries in place, namely: Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, and Viet Nam. The Meeting discussed key project activities to be undertaken, i.e. baseline survey, regular survey, regular meetings, and workshops. After the discussion, participating countries were requested to gather information for the upcoming baseline and regular surveys scheduled in August 2017. It was further announced that the Project Planning Meeting would be hosted by the Secretariat in Bangkok, Thailand on 4 August 2017 with the participation of all SEAFDEC Member Countries.