Accelerating the recovery of the European Eel

UK’s east coast sees huge increase in elver numbers

Following the huge increase in the number of elvers arriving in the UK’s western estuaries this year, reports have been published of a massive increase on the east coast as well.

An exceptionally early arrival of large numbers of elvers and eels has been recorded at the new Wiggenhall St Germans Pumping Station elver pass near Kings Lynn.

10,000 glass eels were recorded in the first three days of April, and during the first three weeks of April nearly 50,000 elvers made their way through the pass. This is an exceptional quantity for so early in the elver migration period which lasts from April to October.

A new elver pass has been installed at the new Wiggenhall St Germans Pumping Station, the second largest in Europe,  to allow the young eels to migrate into the waterways of the Middle Level catchment. The catchment covers 70,000 hectares of the Cambridgeshire and West Norfolk fens between the Nene Washes near Peterborough and the Ouse Washes from Earith to Downham Market.

Cliff Carson, Environmental Officer for the Middle Level BAP Partnership said “It is great to see a boom year for elvers after so very many years when their numbers were less than 5% of the former totals returning to the UK. We hope this improved trend will continue. The St Germans Pumping Station elver pass will give excellent access for eels and elvers into the Middle Level rivers and drains that will benefit eel population recovery in the future”

The full report from the Middle Level Commissioners is here

The media have loved the news and have given it plenty of coverage. Read the news report from the Eastern Daily Press here, and wider analysis here featuring insight from Sustainable Eel Standard certificate holder Peter Carter.

Glass eels at the top of the elver pass queuing up for the final leg of their three-thousand-mile journey. Photo Cliff Carson ref. IMG_9077
Glass eels at the top of the elver pass queuing up for the final leg of their three-thousand-mile journey.
Photo Cliff Carson ref. IMG_9077
The elver pass on the tidal side of the pumping station. The elvers climb eight meters in height and 35 meters in length. Photo Cliff Carson ref. IMG_9253
The elver pass on the tidal side of the pumping station. The elvers climb eight meters in height and 35 meters in length.
Photo Cliff Carson ref. IMG_9253


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