Eel conservation

Eel fisherman

Thames eel fisherman Dave Pearce handling his fyke nets

Principal Investigator

Dr Paul Clark

Project summary

Focus: preventing further decline of the European eel population

We are working with the European Commission (EC) on an Eel Recovery Plan to prevent further decline of the European eel, Anguilla anguilla.

The EC's Eel Recovery Plan (Council Regulation No. 1100/2007) aims to prevent further decline of stocks and return them to more sustainable levels of adult abundance and glass eel recruitment.

Each EC member state is required to establish its own national Eel Management Plan (EMP).

These plans aim to bring silver eel escapement to the spawning population to levels that equal or exceeds a target set at 40% of the potential biomass that would be produced under conditions with no anthropogenic disturbance due to fishing, water quality or barriers to migration. 

There are also concerns about freshwater eel stocks on a global scale and the major trends and research developments have recently been reviewed by Righton and Walker (2013).

We are:

  • analysing data on eels in the River Thames
  • releasing eels trapped in reservoirs

Releasing eels

The Museum and Royal Holloway University of London have trapped 151 eels since October 2012 at the water intake ladder at Hanningfield Reservoir (time of writing: June 2014).

From this we have concluded that there may be high numbers of large, female silver eels effectively trapped in the reservoir and unable to complete their normal breeding migration (Clark et al., 2011, 2012; Morritt et al., 2013).

A proof of concept study is required to establish whether trapped silver eels released back into the wild will attempt seaward breeding migration and return to the Sargasso Sea.

Publications

  • Hunt K, Clark PF 2009. Report on use of Dual Frequency Identification Sonar (DIDSON) to monitor entrainment of Anguilla anguilla (Linnaeus, 1758) in a water intake at Walton on Thames, Surrey. A report for the Environment Agency. For the attention of Steve Sheridan, June 2009. pp 1-30.
  • Hunt K, Campbell P, Clark PF. 2009 Report on fyke net fishing survey to investigate eel populations in Queen Elizabeth II Reservoir, Surrey A report for the Environment Agency. pp. 1-10. June 2009
  • Hunt K., Campbell P. and Clark P 2010 Report on fyke net fishing survey to investigate European eel populations in the Queen Elizabeth II and Grand Junction reservoirs. A report for the Environment Agency. pp 1-9.
  • Clark PF, Morritt D, Campbell P, Pearce D 2011. Report on fyke net fishing survey to investigate European eel, Anguilla anguilla (Linnaeus, 1758), populations in Hanningfield Reservoir, Essex, England. A report produced for the Environment Agency. pp. 1–19.
  • Clark PF, Morritt D, Crimmen O, Pearce D 2012. Report on fyke net fishing survey to investigate European eel, Anguilla anguilla (Linnaeus, 1758), populations in Hanningfield Reservoir, Essex, England, Autumn 2011. A report produced for Essex and Suffolk Water and the Environment Agency. pp 1-16.
  • Morritt D, Pearce D, Clark PF, 2013. Report on fyke net fishing survey to investigate European eel, Anguilla anguilla (Linnaeus, 1758), populations in Hanningfield Reservoir, Essex, England, August and September 2012. A report produced for Essex and Suffolk Water and the Environment Agency. pp. 22.

Museum staff

Collaborators

  • Dave Morritt
    Royal Holloway University of London
  • Darryl Clifton-Dey
    Environment Agency
  • David Righton and Alan Walker
    CEFAS

Related information

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Zoology collections

Our zoology collection has 29 million animal specimens and is rich in voucher, type and historical specimens