1000’s of Elver Eels Die

As the Elver eels migrate through the Shannon waterway towards Lough Erne, thousands of critically endangered eels die in a trap that was supposed to help their migration past the hydroelectric power station at Ballyshannon.

After a 4,000+ mile journey across the Atlantic, these elver eels were confronted by the power station at Cathaleen’s fall. It was said that the two traps which capture the eels for transportation to Lough Erne, became full and the eels were starved of oxygen. These eels are not often caught on traditional coarse, sea or fly fishing tackle, but can fall foul to a well presented bait.

It’s understood that the traps are checked each day, but over the bank holiday weekend there was a major run of eels up the river Erne, of which, most employees were off work and the traps hadn’t been checked.

This unfortunate incident resulted in the death of 112kg of juvenile eels.

Elvers, photo/Department of Environmental Conservation.

Elvers, photo/Department of Environmental Conservation.

The European eel is a critically endangered species, and commercial fishing, on many waterways was banned following an EU directive to try to reverse a 90% decline in stocks since the 1970s.

Eels migrate up to 4,000 miles from breeding sites in the Sargasso Sea across the Atlantic to Europe where they live for between five and 20 years in freshwater, before migrating back across the Atlantic to spawn.

Scientists who have been studying eels have reported an increase in the numbers of juvenile eels returning to European waters in recent years.