Thousands of eels get a helping hand with their migration on the Severn and Avon
Nearly 200,000 eels have been caught and moved over migration barriers on rivers in Tewkesbury
Young eels ready for release
The annual spring migration of elvers (young eels of the common or European eel) from the sea into our rivers is nearly over. Their migration upstream is often blocked by multiple sluices and weirs, reducing their ability to inhabit all freshwater habitats that should be available to them. This limits the recovery of the whole European eel population which is estimated to have reduced by 90 – 95% since the 1980s.
Abbey Mill Weir in Tewkesbury blocks the eel’s and other fishes’ migration upstream to new places to live
In an operation between the Sustainable Eel Group and some local elver fishermen, 197,500 elvers were caught in the Mill Avon in Tewkesbury during May and June, and moved over Abbey Mill weir, to help their migration upstream.
Elvers being released above the weir at Tewkesbury
Our thanks to the Environment Agency for granting the permission, and to the following fishers who did this voluntarily, for the benefit of the eel population, and for the wildlife of the Severn catchment: Stephen Beard, Kenny Wilson, Dan Raggatt, Robert Sutton, Paul Stokes and Wayne Edwards.
This operation will help the eel populations to recover in these rivers and will make a contribution to the eel’s recovery across Europe.
The Environment Agency has commisioned the construction of an eel pass at Abbey Mill weir. That should be ready in July, so any elvers that have not been able to migrate by then, should be able to via the new eel pass after that.