Scientists are releasing 17 000 young wild eels, sourced from the River Severn, into the Lagan river system and its associated lakes. Six thousand have already been released into Hillsborough Lake by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, financed by the Lough Neagh Fisherman’s Cooperative Society Ltd.
Downshire East Alliance representative Aaron McIntyre welcomed the initiative stating “This is an exciting long term experiment that should go a long way to addressing the declining wild eel population, which has dropped by 95% across Europe in recent years. These juvenile eels will hopefully mature to renew breeding stocks in the Lagan river system, and it is my understanding that a number of the eels are marked so that their progress can be tracked over the next number of years.
This scheme will breathe new life into the Lagan system and its associated lakes, increasing biodiversity, and the overall initiative will contribute to the on-going programme of eel research at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute funded by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure.”
Downshire West colleague Owen Gawith added “The marked eels will be especially useful in tracking the life of these remarkable fish. On the River Severn poaching has been reported as a particular problem, so close observation here should help deter any such behaviour, and help ensure the re-establishment of a viable eel population.”