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Eelric: Eel Reproduction Innovation Centre

World-wide, eel populations have decreased strongly in numbers since the 1970s. The existing eel farms still depend on the catches of glass eels in nature which are then raised to market size. Only a restricted number of glass eels is available for aquaculture and societal concern exists about the lack of sustainability. Successful reproduction in captivity could supply aquaculture with glass eels and close the production cycle. This way, both eel aquaculture as well as management of the natural populations could become sustainable. Several European research groups work independently on the reproduction of European eel in captivity but progress is still limited. The aim of Eel Reproduction Innovation Centre EELRIC is to function as a platform for the reproduction of eel in captivity and as a home for an international consortium of partners sharing experience and collaborating to force breakthroughs. EELRIC is initiated and owned by the partnership between Stichting Duurzame Palingsector Nederland (DUPAN) and Wageningen University and Research Centre (Wageningen UR). The launch of EELRIC represents an essential step towards reproduction of eel in captivity to support sustainable aquaculture.

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On October 20 2016, a symposium was organised with the title ‘Towards reproduction of eel in captivity to support sustainable aquaculture’ at the campus of Wageningen University & Research in The Netherlands. Participants presented their recent research on this topic. Under ‘downloads’ the abstract book of the symposium. The symposium was part of a workshop and prelude to a meeting to shape and establish international collaboration within the Eel Reproduction Innovation Centre (EELRIC). Discussed were its objectives and explored was how such international collaboration could be established.

All potential partners were eager to collaborate and most potential partners immediately agreed on collaborating within EELRIC. Terms of reference were defined:

  1. Scientific collaboration is required in overcoming bottlenecks such as first larval feeding rapidly.
  2. EELRIC can serve as home for an international consortium of science and industry partners.
  3. The collaborative integration of background and foreground knowledge should not be a problem. EELRIC collaboration has an open character but protection of background knowledge, not foreground knowledge, could be arranged in confidentiality agreements.
  4. We can collaborate by the exchange of scientists (early stage and staff), materials and protocols.
  5. Every year there should be an EELRIC workshop.
  6. We as EELRIC consortium should lobby for funding collaborative opportunities on eel reproduction