Accelerating the recovery of the European Eel

Elver fishermen go fishing for nature conservation

Fishermen on the river Severn have been given special permission to catch elvers to move them over Abbey Mill weir in Tewkesbury.

The annual spring migration of elvers (baby eels) from the sea into our estuaries and rivers is nearly over. Their migration upstream is helped by incoming tides, and the highest tides of the year in spring help them to get past the first major blockages to fish migration – Upper Lode Weir on the Severn and Abbey Mill weir on the Avon – both in Tewkesbury.

Releasing elvers into the river at Tewkesbury

Now that those high spring tides have passed, elvers in the Severn have the opportunity to swim over Upper Lode weir, due to specially constructed ‘eel passes’, one on each bank.  However, in the Mill Avon,  which links the lower river Avon to the Severn,  thousands of elvers are now stuck, as they can’t get over Abbey Mill weir.

So, six elver fishers have been given special authorisation to fish in the Mill Avon and to release them above Abbey Mill weir, to help their natural migration.  This is permitted until 25 June.

The Environment Agency has commisioned the construction of an eel pass at Abbey Mill weir.  That should be ready in July, so any elvers not moved in June should be able to migrate via the new eel pass after that.

Our thanks to the Environment Agency for granting the permission, and to the following fishers who are doing this voluntarily, for the benefit of the currently depleted eel population, and for the wildlife of the Severn catchment:  Stephen Beard, Kenny Wilson, Dan Raggatt, Robert Sutton, Paul Stokes and Wayne Edwards.

For any queries contact David Bunt:  07770 793900