UK Glass Eels Newsletter January 2017

Llangorse Lake

East of Brecon, between the Central Beacons and the Black Mountains, is the largest natural lake in Wales, Llangorse Lake. It lies in a flooded hollow of 130 hectares formed by glacial action, at 154m above sea level.
The lake is now  a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and has long been regarded as a place where fish and birds are found in unusually high numbers.

The lake is privately owned, a small river running in and out of the lake with an ancient trap seemed to us to be an ideal venue  for a restocking and monitoring program.  
While IUCN tries to  substantiate its claims that the standing stock for eels has fallen dramatically, claims of 10% have often been quoted,  it brings into focus’s very clearly how difficult it is to measure national eel populations.  We are having difficulty in measuring the population in a well-defined area.  In making judgements with regard to eel populations we should not lose sight of the fact these populations are at best difficult to measure and at worst impossible.
There is a long history of local communities exploiting the fish stocks including eels. More than a hundred years ago an eel trap was installed on the only stream exiting the lake. This was operated  up to about 1980.  
The trap works by diverting lowering the screens and diverting the eels into an underground holding facility.
It would appear at about this time the lake was intensively fished with fyke nets  over one summer and nearly all the eel stock was removed  and the eel trap was no longer economic to operate.
The trap had fallen into disrepair but with a little restoration it has been made to work again.
So five years ago we started restocking the lake with juvenile eels.  An initial seeding of 50,000 pieces with annual subsequent additions between ten and twenty thousand pieces each year. All have been marked with strontium chloride.  We have been able to generate some external interest. Nature for Wales is operating the trap. Unfortunately they have limited resources. Ideally the trap needs of modification and significant further investment if it is to be operated unattended.
For the last two years the trap has been worked in the autumn and this year we have carried out some fyke netting as well.  You would probably not be surprised to learn that so far we have not caught one eel that is a result of our restocking efforts though rod and line fishermen have started to complain about the eels.


Our return to France is not without problems.  We are making progress, but last week we had to face a group of fishermen who had been told that we were not permitted to operate in France and if they sold to us they would likely to end up with serious problems with the authorities.
The low river levels, and the lack of rain has resulted in a slow start to the season. Just before Christmas river bank prices remained at one of the highest levels for several years. The situation can change very rapidly.


The price of A.japonica has dropped to RMB11/pce (Euro 1.53 or 1.5 USD) this is a low price compared to previous years, and could be an indicator of the market perception of the likely level of future  production. This has had a dramatic impact on the demand of A rostrata from the Domincan Republic which is now 2300 USD per kilo. (0.3 USD per pce). The price continues to fall.
A.anguilla continues to arrive in Asia. 30% being routed through Hong Kong the rest directly to China. The exports of A.anguilla are impossible to stop. There is simply not the political will or the resources to check the movements of glass eels within the EU. There is little cross border cooperation between reciprocal organisations  and virtually none between the multitude of departments that are required for effective management.   The glass eels  are in free circulation through the EU and while there is the demand the current regulations create the margin. Though I am loath to suggest it the only way to stop these illegal exports is to allow some controlled exports outside the EU.

Peter Wood.

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UK Glass Eels · 123 Hempsted Lane, Gloucester, United Kingdom · Gloucester, England GL25JY · United Kingdom

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