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News article created on 11 November 2015

Electrofishing stuns the Regent's Canal

A major operation on the Regents Canal in East London has rehomed hundreds of fish and endangered European eels as millions of litres of water was drained during vital repair work to 1km of canal wall.

European eels European eels

More than 800lbs of fish including roach, perch and bream were collected. We also recovered 11 carp weighing between 20-27lbs and 67 endangered European eels.

The eels, along with hundreds of fish, were relocated from the canal near Mile End because of our two-month project to repair holes in the historic canal walls.

Fish experts were drafted in to carry out the operation, known as ‘electrofishing’. The process involves using a harmless low electrical current to temporarily immobilise the fish. They are then scooped up, transferred to large containers filled with fresh water and moved to safety on a nearby unaffected stretch of canal.

Canals are perfect for eels

Across England and Wales, around 500,000 fish are expected to be relocated during 40-50 fish rescues between November and March, as we begin a £45 million major overhaul of our waterways. Essential maintenance will include the replacement of worn-out lock gates and repairs to aqueducts, reservoirs, bridges and tunnels.

John Ellis, national fisheries and angling manager for the Canal & River Trust, said: “Eels have declined by more than 90% over the past 50 years because of overfishing of their young, changes to ocean currents caused by climate change, a new parasite and barriers preventing migration.

"Fortunately, canals are perfect for eels as they love silty canal beds so it’s fantastic news for us that our waterways are providing an important habitat for them.”