Major elver kill on River Erne

Further to our reports of incompetence from the ESB in operating elver traps on the River Shannon, we were at least happy to know that elver traps were being operated at the ESB Hydroelectric Station on the River Erne at Ballyshannon. On the Erne the ESB are put under pressure by the Northern Ireland authorities on this cross border catchment to at least make some type of an effort.

No one was on duty to service ESB elver traps over the bank holiday weekend
No one was on duty to service ESB elver traps over the bank holiday weekend

However, we received an appalling report last week that the ESB left the traps at Ballyshannon operating over the Easter bank holiday weekend without anyone on duty to check the traps.¬†Further to this it was been confirmed by the ESB that a total 336,000 (112KG) died in the elver traps at Cathaleen’s Fall dam on the River Erne in Ballyshannon.

There was a major elver run over the weekend. However, with no one to operate the traps it is understood that the elvers died in their hundreds of thousands due to deoxgenation in the holding tanks.

This event is further apparent evidence that running a national elver monitoring programme / juvenile eel assisted migration programme is beyond the capabilities of the ESB. After failing to have any traps operating on the River Shannon by early May 2014, this failure to manage traps properly on the River Erne and cause a major elver kill is a further failure of International significance.

Tailrace of Cathaleen's Fall dam with elver trap on the left of the photograph
Tailrace of Cathaleen’s Fall dam with elver trap on the left of the photograph

We also do not know when the traps actually commenced operation on the River Erne. The ESB said that traps were operating on the River Shannon since the 4th April; however we took photos that showed that the traps remained in-operational on the 1st May.

Our story was picked up on by the BBC and the story can be found in this story entitled “endangered eels die in power station trap at Ballyshannon“.