Helping the plight of the Eel
20,000 eels were released in the River Lymn by the Lincolnshire Rivers Trust and the Sustainable Eel Group as part of a major UK initiative to help eel numbers recover.
Barriers to migration, loss of habitat and climate change are just a few of the many reasons why eel numbers have declined in the last decade.
Efforts are now underway to improve this situation, and rivers in Lincolnshire will be central to European efforts to help eel populations. Other initiatives on the Lymn include the construction of eel passes by the Environment Agency to help eels on their crucial migration up and down the river, and other conservation projects led by the Lincolnshire Rivers Trust.
Partney Weir was the first of several releases in Lincolnshire. The juvenile eels were caught using traditional hand netting techniques on the River Severn in the late spring and bought by UK Glass Eels, based in Gloucester. They were housed and fed over the summer, and then donated for restocking into UK rivers.
The River Lymn and Steeping catchment areas were chosen as an “ideal” nursery habitat for the young eels to grow and develop in the next 15-20 years. After a national search, scientists from The Rivers Trust chose it for the unusual and important scientific characteristics created by the river’s source in the Lincolnshire Wold chalk and its subsequent flow through lowland fenland to the sea.
Once mature, the eels will return via the North Sea to the Sargasso Sea in the Western Atlantic to breed and spawn
Andrew Kerr, Chairman of Sustainable Eel Group (SEG) said:
“With its new eel passes and increased stocks of young eels, the River Lymn will continue to be a crucial habitat for this amazing species. We hope the benefits will last for decades, and provide eels with a great environment to grow and develop before they embark on the 4000 mile long journey to breed.”
Since the release of the eels we have filmed eel netting with the Environment Agency and Mike Dilger from the BBC. Watch our trustee Dr Jonathan Bolland on BBC Inside Out talking about eels: