Police diver team and rural crime officers mount operation targeting illegal Elver fishing on River Dee
Police carried out an operation targeting the illegal fishing of Elvers from the River Dee on Tuesday.
Officers from North West Police Underwater Search and Marine Unit joined colleagues from Cheshire Constabularies Rural Crime Team as part of an ongoing European wide operation.
Elvers – juvenile eels, also known as glass eels – are currently on the “Red List” as a critically endangered species, the same level as the Panda.
Operation Lake is an annual Europol led operation targeting the trafficking of the protected European eel (Anguilla Anguilla) species, which has seen its population decrease by 90 % in recent years.
Today we’ve assisted @cheshirepolice’s Rural Crime Team with #OpLake targeting the illegal fishing/poaching of Elvers from the River Dee. This operation is coordinated by @Europol right across Europe. #environmentalcrime #ruralcrime #policedivers #joblikenoother #marinepolicing pic.twitter.com/elZuFBNwED
— North West Police Underwater Search & Marine Unit (@NWPoliceDivers) January 25, 2022
The main criminal networks involved in this trafficking are primarily active in UK, France, Spain and Portugal, according to Europol.
“Nationals from these countries manage the illegal fishing while nationals from the destination countries in Asia arrange the logistics and transportation.”
“The investigations during (Operation) Lake V uncovered criminal networks building special structures similar to bunkers to store the illegally fished glass eels arriving in Asia, the glass eels are grown in fish farms and distributed to different markets across the globe.” Europol has said.
The trafficking of glass eels is one of the biggest, most lucrative illegal trades of protected spaces worldwide, with illegal profits estimated to be up to €3 billion in recent years.
Successful law enforcement efforts in combating this threat to European wildlife has made a big contribution to the illegal activity’s significant decrease: estimates show that the trafficking of eels is now 50 % lower than in 2016, the after year Operation Lake was launched.
At present the price of a kilo of elvers in the UK legal market is £150 / kg – a kilo of elvers equates to approximately 3000 individual fish or about a pint glass full of fish.
On the black market the fish can fetch up to £6000 per kilo, and this leads to illegal exports, Europol says it has “even stopped people trying to smuggle elvers in hand luggage at UK airports.”
Due to the amount of money involved, there is a high involvement with organised crime.
Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com