Tales from the Eel lab
Six years ago two Volendam entrepreneurs decided to write eel history by opening an advanced eel research lab in Volendam: Glasaal Volendam. Their aim was to present to the world the unraveling of the most mysterious of all fish mysteries: the reproduction of European glass eel.
As many know, the European eel, ‘Anguila Anguila’ (would make for a nice band name), is a mystique fish, which only spawns and hatches eggs in the vast waters of the Sargasso Sea. This sea is located near Bermuda (!). It only reaches European waters after an impressive 6000 km migration across the Atlantic ocean, after which it lands in European fresh water habitat to settle and relax for a few years. Once fully mature, it gathers all its courage for a heroic remigration to the Sargasso sea, where it produces up to a million eggs. After this last major effort, it dies.
Up to today, no man, computer or alien has been able to copy this wonder of nature. Lab reproduction is simply impossible. Therefore, all eel farms worldwide working with Anguila Anguila rely on small wild baby eels that have just reached European shores.
This has led to a gold rush for these baby eels. Asian market prices for a kilo of imported European glass eel can rise up to € 3000,- (!). And because of these prices, the European wild eel population is hugely affected each year by mass -mostly illegal- glass eel fishing in southern Europe.
Enter Glasaal Volendam. They develop a technique that could make their lab the first in the world (commercially) reproducing European eels in waters outside the Sargasso sea. Hereby the eel farms would no longer rely on the wild eels, which could create a great boost for the wild European eel population.
A very challenging, innovative and brave project! As of this year, I have become board member of Glasaal Volendam, being responsible for HR. An exciting opportunity, as the research is currently fast developing and reaching a critical stage. Volendam could very well be on the verge of once again making its mark in Dutch eel history!
Although there might still be a lot more mystery to eel than meets the eye 😉