Loss of European silver eel passing a hydropower station


Author’s address: Michael I. Pedersen, DTU-Aqua, Section for Freshwater Fisheries Ecology, Vejlsøvej 39, DK-8600 Silkeborg, Denmark.
E-mail: mip@aqua.dtu.dk


The aim of this study was to assess escapement success of silver eels, Anguilla anguilla (L.), in a lowland river while passing a reservoir and a hydropower station. It was hypothesized that passage success would be lowest at the hydropower station and that survival and migration speed would be highest in the free-flowing river section upstream the reservoir. Forty-five female silver eels 56–86 cm in length were tagged with acoustic transmitters and released in November 2006. Their migration was monitored via automatic listening stations (ALS) in various sections of the river, covering a total migration distance of 64 km. Survival and progression rate of downstream migration was highest in the upstream river section and significantly lower in the reservoir. The eels apparently had trouble finding their way past the turbines and spent between 1.5 and 35 h in the forebay. The results show that within the study period, only 23% of the tagged eels reached the tidal limit, mainly due to difficulties in passing the hydropower dam. With such high loss-rates, the escapement goals set in the management plan cannot be achieved.