Accelerating the recovery of the European Eel

Compelling research shows huge number of eels being killed by unscreened water pumps & turbines

“Pumping stations may significantly threaten escapement targets set in eel management plans” concludes a detailed study titled ‘Mortality of European eel after downstream migration through two types of pumping stations’ by D. Buysse*, A. M. Mouton, M. Stevens, T. Van den Neucker and J. Coeck.

The abstract of the paper published in the latest Fisheries Management and Ecology journal says:

“Although numerous pumping stations (PS) have been used by water managers for numerous applications on rivers, canals and other water bodies, their impact on fish populations is poorly understood.

Eels archimedes screw“This study investigates European eel, Anguilla anguilla (L.), mortality after natural downstream passage through a propeller pump and two Archimedes screw pumps at two PSs on two lowland canals in Belgium. Fyke nets were mounted permanently on the outflow of the pumps during the silver eel migration periods. Based on the condition and injuries, maximum eel mortality rates were assessed.

“Mortality rates ranged from 97 +/- 5% for the propeller pump to 17 +/- 7% for the large Archimedes screw pump and 19 +/- 11% for the small Archimedes screw pump. Most injuries were caused by striking or grinding.

“The results demonstrate that pumping stations may significantly threaten escapement targets set in eel management plans.”

Andrew Kerr, Chairman of SEG said: “Water pumps are a crucial part of modern day life, but they need to be properly screened to stop eels being needlessly killed. Installing pump and turbine screens MUST be a priority for owners across Europe.”

The full report is available here