Posted by Jim Kerr - 20/04/2015 17:49:00

Seastar Survey is currently working in collaboration with CEFAS to trawl for glass eels in the UK. Glass eels are the unpigmented juvenile lifestage of European eel, Anguilla anguilla. Juvenile European eels migrate from their birthing grounds in the Sargasso Sea ca. 6000 km away to rivers and estuaries around Europe where they grow and mature for many years after before returning to the Sargasso Sea to spawn.

The European eel is a threatened species that has experienced a huge reduction in recruitment in recent decades. It is estimated that recruitment is currently less than 10% of historic levels. The species receives protection under the The Eels (England and Wales) Regulations 2009, CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), and the European Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC).

European glass eels are vulnerable to human pressures in the form of overfishing, barriers to their upstream migration and passage through hazardous routes such as power plant cooling systems. Seastar Survey is working with CEFAS to assess the number of glass eels utilising hazardous areas of the UK coastline to inform management decisions. Of particular importance is legislation that requires abstraction facilities in locations through which large numbers of glass eels pass to be screened with 1-2 mm screens. A requirement that will have heavy financial implications for energy companies.