The European Eel Regulations – A Slippery Problem

In 2009 regulations came into effect in order to protect the European Eel (Anguilla anguilla), whose numbers are in decline.

Eels spawn in the Sargasso Sea and the young, known as glass eels, migrate to freshwater rivers, lakes and ponds where they grow into young eels called elvers.  They may live in freshwater for 10-15 years, growing up to 1.5 meters long.  The adult eels then migrate back downstream to the Sargasso Sea in order to spawn.  The life cycle is then repeated.

The main problem eels face is in their migration behaviour as elvers swim up rivers and as adults, down river.

Many water courses have obstructions which can either prevent the migration of the eels, such as dams and weirs, or hazards such as intake pipes and outfalls.

Eels are at risk from being sucked into water intake pipes where they are often killed or injured by the pumping equipment, whilst dams and weirs create an obstacle that the eels may not be able to overcome.

Fortunately there are solutions to these problems:

Wedge Wire Screens
Fine wedge wire grills in conjunction with deflectors can be installed onto inlets and outfalls in order to help prevent eels from being sucked into plant equipment.  The deflectors help to guide the eels away from these danger areas.

Fish Passes
Fish passes enable the eels and other migratory species such as salmon to bypass obstacles such as dams and weirs.

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A Fish Pass

Fish Friendly Pumps
Some water pumps are fish friendly and are less likely to damage eels.


Commercial and Specialised Diving can help you to comply with the European Eel Regulations, so if you have any questions get in touch on 01202 580007.

 

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