Elver fishermen prepare to donate catches for nature conservation
Elver fishermen on the Parrett and Severn are preparing to donate some of their catch to help eel populations.
The elver fishing season on the rivers Parrett in Somerset and Severn in Gloucestershire has started well this spring. Catches are expected to be higher than normal.
75% of the elvers caught are sold and exported to enhance sparse wild eel populations across Europe. With extra fish likely to be caught, fishermen are preparing to donate those to go back into nearby rivers and lakes not easily accessed by eels, to help increase the population of this important and endangered species.
The assisted migration programme is being organised in a partnership between the Sustainable Eel Group; the Parrett and Severn elver fishermen; the eel buyers Eeline UK, UK Glass Eels and Eels SouthWest; and the Environment Agency.
Fishermen are being asked to donate 0.5kg each – that’s about 1,500 elvers (or ‘glass eels’). They’ll be caught during the period 15 April – 15 May. Their donation will be recorded and held for a short period. They’ll then be moved to places above migration barriers where they will disperse and grow and, in 5 – 20 years, create more spawners (silver eels) to go on to help recover the endangered eel population.
The Parrett and Severn elver fisheries are each certified as ‘responsible’ under the Sustainable Eel Group’s (SEG) Standard. This a certification scheme that recognises good and responsible practices towards sustainable fishing. Making a donation of elvers for restocking back to their local environment helps to maintain that certification.
On the Severn the elvers will be put in the Avon above Abbey Weir in Tewkesbury. From the Parrett, the elvers will go to a number of wetlands across Somerset, and above barriers on the Brue, Axe, Hunstspill and King’s Sedgemoor Drain. Fishermen will be invited to help with the movements.