ESB’s elver trap at Ardnacrusha: 1997 and 2014 compared

The 2014 juvenile eel catch on the River Shannon (from both Ardnacrusha and Parteen weir) came to only 354 Kg. This was only about 5% of the peak catches from these sites in the 1980’s, and only 10% of the peak catches from the 1990’s. Last year, all across Europe elver catches were reported to have been at 1980’s levels. The ESB catches are an anomaly, and can be easily explained by their poor efforts.

The photos here show the elver trap at Ardnacrusha in 1997 when 2,119 KG of elvers were caught, and last year when less than 10% of this quantity was caught in a record year. It is clear that the same efforts are not being made. In 1997 trapping began at the end of March, while in 2014 this trap was still not operating by the first week of May. But even when the trap was eventually set up there was not enough attraction water provided. The low catches at this site in a record year can be explained by the poor efforts made by ESB.

Ardnacrusha elver trap working in late June 2014. Clearly still not enough of a water supply or attraction. Key issue is however that no trap was operating here during April 2014.
Ardnacrusha elver trap working in late June 2014. Clearly not enough of a water supply or attraction – indeed none can be seen in this photo. Key issue is however that no trap was operating here during April 2014.
The Ardnacrusha elver trap was not operating by the first week of May 2014 therefore missing the elver run.
The Ardnacrusha elver trap was not operating by the first week of May 2014 therefore missing the elver run.
Shannon eels (1)
How the trap was operated in 1997 when 2,119 KGS of elvers were captured and transported upstream at Ardnacrusha alone.
The elver run in April 1997. This was the first run of elvers that year.

There is no fish pass at Ardnacrusha or Parteen to help juvenile eels migrate upstream on the River Shannon. They depend on the ESB to trap and transport them around these dams. The ESB have failed to meet their statutory obligations on the River Shannon to help the critically endangered European eel.

Why were the catches in 2014 so low? Firstly the ESB failed to get the trap running in time – they did not start trapping until the second week of May. Secondly, when you compare the 1997 photo with the 2014 photo it is clear that there simply was not enough water going down the trap to act as an attraction to the elvers

For more on the elver runs in the 1990’s and how they were managed see this link:-

For further information also see these posts:-

It is time for a major change in the management of eels on the River Shannon. We are concerned with the ESB’s current attitude to elver trapping, where they are claiming that they are in fact making suitable efforts. If this is the case they need to explain why their catches are so low, relative to other achievements across Europe over the past 3 years. We are very concerned that the way things are going the same inadequate effort will be made by ESB during 2015. We will be providing a commentary on this page, and will be happy to advise on improvements if we are requested to do so.

PS: Inland Fisheries Ireland (IF) are doing even worse. It is understood that just a few KGS of elvers were captured by IFI at the traps they operate on the River Maigue. In 1997 there was 470 KGS captured when proper efforts were being made.