Press release

New eel passes installed on the Bedford Ouse

4 new eel passes have been installed by the Environment Agency on the Bedford Ouse to help eels migrate to the upper parts of the river.

The eel passes have been installed at sluices between St Ives and Houghton.

Eel stocks have been identified as ‘critically low’ in Europe and installation of these new passes should help more of them to get past structures in the Bedford Ouse and on upstream.

Helping eels on their fantastic journey

Juvenile eels (Leptocephali) start their fantastic journey in the deep waters near the Bermuda triangle, travelling into Europe, with some coming into the English Channel and through the Wash into the Great Ouse and its tributaries. They finally go further upstream to complete the freshwater stage of their lifecycle, which can last up to 60 years.

James Dyke Environment Agency Fisheries Officer said:

Getting past structures, such as the St Ives sluice is key for survival of the eels and will make a real difference to their ability to travel further upstream to complete their lifecycle.

With numbers currently so low, they need all the help they can get if we’re going to keep this fascinating species in our rivers.

Work was carried out over 2 years, after the structures between St Ives and Houghton were identified as ‘high priority’ barriers to eel migration. Eels were listed in year 2007 as a critically endangered species, with eel regulations requiring passes to be installed so their migration is not blocked by structures in rivers.

The Environment Agency has a key role in ensuring that the biodiversity of our watercourses is enhanced and fish stocks are managed for the benefit of wildlife and people. The organisation has a responsibility to clean up rivers; however everyone has a part to play to help make our water and land more natural and sustainable for people and wildlife.

To find out more about the work the Environment Agency does to create a better place visit their web site.