Elver Release to Re-populate Westcountry Rivers
Over a quarter of a million elvers have been released into the River Parrett, and there are more to follow to boost Westcountry river populations.
Lucy Morris of the Westcountry Rivers Trust reports that:
The Westcountry Rivers Trust have held a joint event with the Rivers Trust to oversee the release of some 270,000 eels at six reaches on the River Parrett in Somerset. The aim of the release was to repopulate water bodies above barriers that prevent the upstream migration of eels and to see if the releases could work for conservation stocking purposes. It is hoped that, in total, around one million glass eels and elvers will be caught below and then re-released above barriers in the Rivers Parrett, Axe, Brue and Huntspill in Somerset.
The project, which is funded by the European Fisheries Fund, involves a partnership between the Environment Agency, The Rivers Trust and the Sustainable Eels Group. The elvers were originally caught lower down within these rivers by local fishermen, who kindly donated them to the project. They were then kept in captivity until their release date when the fishermen participating in the project were invited to release them back into the higher sections of river, an experience some found remarkably moving.
Comments such as, “That’s a beautiful site” were heard often and tears of joy were subtly wiped from the eyes of many.
The day was considered a great success, not only due to the potential of the project to improve eel populations and distribution but also because new working partnerships and relationships were forged between local stakeholders. Once again, the project highlights the passion of fisherman for conservation and the importance of local knowledge and stakeholder participation for successful project delivery.