Face your challenges!

The young generation of eel farmers is energetic and proud. Carolin Bentlage of eel farm ALBE Fishfarm is fully committed to do a good job, from top to toe.

Carolin Bentlage of eel farm ALBE Fishfarm.

In 2019, Carolin Bentlage stepped into her father’s footsteps at ALBE Fishfarm. Born in 1993, she has a multifaceted job that she sincerely enjoys and eagerly looks forward to extending her tasks while taking in more responsibilities.

As a child, Carolin used to be on the farm whenever possible, following her father on her tricycle, playing around, seeing him feeding the eel, managing the farming system.

Want to do eel farming

“My whole life I knew that I want to be in the eel farming business”, Carolin tells. She first followed her grandfather’s advice: in any business, knowing about money is useful! So, Carolin made an apprenticeship as a bank clerk and studied Business and Management for three years. In her spare time, she helped out on the eel farm, and then worked in the tax accounting department of a company for a year. “Then I felt ready, and I have worked for ALBE Fishfarm ever since,” Carolin says.

ALBE Fishfarm, based in Haren-Rütenbrock, Germany, was founded in 1989. Carolin’s father Hermann Bentlage used to be a trained farmer, but time had come for him to think “I want to do something else!”. He read in the newspapers that eel farming had a niche market potential, and this triggered him. Hermann Bentlage gathered knowledge on aquaculture and eel farming – and was ready to take the risk that comes with embarking on a new field of activity: he stared an eel farm, named it ALBE by combining the family names of Carolin’s mother (ALbers) and himself (BEntlage), and now successfully farms 320 tons of eel a year.

A job multifaceted job

“My job at ALBE is multifaceted”, Carolin declares. She is active in the administration, managing lots of paperwork for tax declarations, bookkeeping, accountancy, and invoices. Carolin is active in the eel restocking activities for which ALBE supplies stocking material.

“I also go out on our farm and to the Emsland Fischzucht eel farm nearby, that we co-own with the Nijvis Group, to supervise the feeding, with my father, to learn more about it. Especially when new deliveries of glass eel come in, as the tiny young glass eel need a very special and very intensive attention when they start learning to feed in the tanks”, Carolin explains. She is highly aware that the fish farming business must rely on good employees that do a good job, and she wants to be one of them, from top to toe.

Carolin gives a helping hand whenever needed in the high seasons. For instance, when eel needs to be packed for the Christmas campaign. “I have a licence do drive a truck and this adds to the flexibility in the company. It allows me to help when we transport life eel or in other circumstances.”

Learn as much as possible

“I hope I can do a good job!”, Carolin Bentlage declares. “I am aware to learn as much as possible from my father and I also learn from collaborating with the Nijvis Group. Their knowledge and advice upon best farming practices and fish welfare are a valuable foundation on which my future in the eel farming business is based.” Business decisions are being taken by Carolin and her father together. “We have a good relationship and that is really nice and important to me”, Carolin declares.

When Carolin Bentlage presents herself to people outside the eel business reactions go from “How interesting!” to “Never heard of eel farming, please enlighten me,” to “Oh my! Isn’t eel an endangered species?”. And Carolin gladly explains about her choice in life.

She informs about the initiatives for the recovery of eel in the wild that would hardly be possible without the contribution of the eel farming business. “Recovery of the eel is a long process, but I am convinced that it will come. The future depends on if glass eel fisheries can proceed, and at what level”, Carolin says. “The police did a good job during the last year. I am happy to see that illegal trafficking networks smuggling glass eels into Asia are being unveiled”, Carolin says. “I have the impression that the official volume of glass eels arriving at the European coasts is increasing and also that the illegal – and thereby hidden – glass eel volume can now count into the official statistics.”

Proud of farming eel

Carolin is confident about the future of eel farming: “I want to do the eel farming. I am proud of it. There are always challenges to overcome, also in eel farming. We have to see what to do, there are no guarantees. You need to face your challenges and do your best, in everything you do!”