Accelerating the recovery of the European Eel

Thousands of eels get a helping hand with their migration in Somerset rivers

Over 100,000 eels have been caught and moved over migration barriers on rivers in Somerset
The annual spring migration of elvers (young eels of the common or European eel) from the sea into our estuaries and rivers is nearly over. Their migration further upstream is often blocked by multiple sluices and weirs, reducing their ability to inhabit the freshwater habitats that should be available to them. This limits the recovery of the whole eel population which is estimated to have reduced by 90 – 95% since the 1980s.

In an operation between the Sustainable Eel Group and Bridgwater elver fishermen, the eels were caught in the River Parrett near Bridgwater, then released to the following locations:

• 11,700 eels were released to the river Huntspill, upstream of Gold Corner pumping station
• 32,700 were released to the 18 foot rhyne above Nythe Sluice near Greinton
• 13,530 were released to the river Brue, above Clyce Hole weir near Highbridge
• 11,550 were released to the river Sheppey near Wells
• 33,000 were rleased to the River Cary, above Henley Sluice near High Ham
• 690 were released to the upper Brue, near Bruton

Elver fishing

Elver Fishing

Elver's being released

Elver’s being released

Our thanks to the Bridgwater elver fishermen for fishing voluntarily for nature conservation, to Peter and Max Neusinger of Eeline UK for holding and transporting the eels and to the Environment Agency who authorised the operation.
Thanks also to the following people who gave permission to use their land to access the river to release the eels: Eric Taylor at Nythe Farm, Amy Hodge at Henley Corner, Westhill Farm Caravan Park at Highbridge.
This operation will help the eel populations to recover in these rivers and will make a contribution to the eel’s recovery across Europe.

For any queries contact David Bunt:  07770 793900