News & Events

Don Catchment reintroduction for endangered eel Posted: 10/06/2010

Eels being released by Chris at Old Moor Nature ReserveTens of thousands of baby eels have been stocked into Old Moor Nature Reserve as part of a catchment wide project to help this endangered species to recover.

The eels were placed in the wetlands on Friday 14 May, with a view to re-establishing a population in the Don catchment, via the River Dearne. This follows years of absence due to the joint impacts of pollution, habitat loss and physical barriers to migration.

Eels are known to be a critical part of the food chain, fed on by otter, bittern and many other key species which conservationists are trying to give a boost in the UK.

The project, led by the Don Catchment Rivers Trust, is funded by Defra, and involves work throughout South Yorkshire including this scheme on the River Dearne. The work involves physical modifications to barriers that restrict the fishes’ migration, awareness raising on the impacts of pollution and habitat loss, and work like this to kick-start the colonisation and recovery process.

Tom Wild said “the big challenge is the habitat, and to make sure the eels can pass up and down the river to get to and from the Sargasso Sea”.

Some experts estimate that globally, eel populations are down by as much as 95%, so every last piece of habitat is vital. And Old Moor Nature Reserve, run by RSPB, provides the perfect setting for a renaissance of this threatened species.

URSULA is an active participant in the work of the Don Catchment Rivers Trust and is supporting this kind of initiative by helping to better understand the impacts of urban river restoration measures and other interventions for the benefit of society, the environment and the economy.

For photos from the eel release click here.

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