The River Teme in Ludlow and surrounding waterways have received 25,000 juvenile eels in the latest SEG initiative to help eels return to abundance.
On Wednesday 23 October, The Severn Rivers Trust and the Sustainable Eel Group released the young eels into the River Teme, starting at Linney Riverside Park in Ludlow. It was the first time SEG had restocked eels into an English river so far upstream.
Rivers in Shropshire and the Severn catchment area will now be central to European efforts to help eel populations.
The area was chosen after a national search because of its unique habitat characteristics, and its official status as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (see below).
The eels are expected to disperse throughout the Teme and surrounding rivers, to grow and develop over the next 15 years or so. Once mature, they will return to the Sargasso Sea in the Western Atlantic to breed and spawn.
Other conservation initiatives on the Teme include the ongoing construction of eel passes by the Severn Rivers Trust and Environment Agency to help fish on their crucial migration up and down the river, and other conservation and river improvement projects led by the Severn Rivers Trust and the Teme Catchment Partnership.
Ludlow was the first of several eel releases in Shropshire. The juvenile eels were caught using traditional hand netting techniques on the River Severn in the late spring, between Gloucester and Tewkesbury, and have been grown on and donated by UK Glass Eels, based in Gloucester.
Andrew Kerr, Chairman of Sustainable Eel Group (SEG) said: “The upper reaches of the Severn and tributaries like the River Teme are a perfect habitat for eels, and will provide them with a great environment to grow and develop over the next 15 or so years. It is a very special, fertile river abundant with natural life, and the ongoing installation of new eel passes will make migration a lot easier for all fish.
“Eels have had a difficult time in recent decades for many reasons, but that’s now changing. Thanks to the partnership work of the Severn Rivers Trust, the Environment Agency and UK Glass Eels, the River Teme will now play an even bigger international role in helping the European eel return to abundance.”
Fast Facts about the UK restocking initiative on the Teme:
- The River Teme was chosen because of its unique appeal for the fish. The Teme catchment landscape is characterised by rolling hills and attractive valleys, with the sheep-grazed Welsh border uplands in the west giving way to the softer, more fertile countryside of the English Midlands in the east. The unspoilt countryside through which the river flows include Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Shropshire Hills and Malvern Hills.
- The rural nature of the area is reflected by high quality rivers supporting high-class fisheries and providing a variety of habitats for a wide range of flora and fauna. It is a river of national importance, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of the rare, precious plants and animals that live in the river and on its banks.
- Long-term eel management plans have been put in place across Shropshire and the whole of the UK in order to secure a positive future for this important species. Key partners include The Rivers Trust, Teme Catchment Partnership, Environment Agency, Wildlife Trusts and land owners, as well as numerous other partners.
- The young eels delivered to Ludlow and its surrounding waterways were caught in the River Severn between Gloucester and Tewkesbury in the late spring. They were bought by UK Glass Eels, and have been housed and fed in a dedicated new facility in Gloucester for the last 3 months. The facility features the latest technologies to maximise survival, and eels from the Severn have some of the highest survival rates in the world.