Due to the demand for glass eel seedstock worldwide and the apparent decline of such stocks and their consequent high value, it is highly probable that increasing pressure will be placed on Australian stocks of glass eels, particularly from overseas producers. This will result in increased pressure on State Fisheries Agencies to manage a presently undefined resource. It is therefore critical that glass eel stocks are defined and quantified so that appropriate management can be determined. Establishment of key glass eel waters (for both long and short-finned eels), modelling of key environmental, climatic and oceanic migration stimuli, development of sustainable harvesting methods and an improved understanding of the population biology are critical for the appropriate management of Australian glass eel stocks. The proposed project therefore identifies the need for coordinated research over the entire known range of short and long-finned eels (ie. Queensland, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania), hence the development of a joint research proposal between these state agencies, as the next logical step from the present short-finned eel project in Victoria and Tasmania only.
To maximise the value of glass eel stocks in Australia, culture methods need to be developed for both eel species. Existing intensive and semi-intensive culture methodology and findings from short-finned eel culture trials in the current FRDC funded eel project can be adapted and developed to establish methodologies for local production of both eel species.
Furthermore, there should be no potential for export of glass eels. Should commercial-scale glass eel resources be defined in Australia as the current FRDC funded eel project and preliminary sampling in Queensland suggest, then it could potentially provide an important boost to productivity in Australian industry, provide the opportunity for value-adding to a natural resource through aquaculture and substantially increase the competitiveness of the Australian industry in the major European and Asian export markets.