ENDANGERED eels look set for much better years ahead, after a bumper crop of 'babies' was spotted.

Andrew Kerr, chairman of the Sustainable Eel Group, has found huge numbers of elvers in the mighty River Severn catchment system.

Elvers – also called glass eels – are the returning baby eels that were hatched out at the Sargasso Sea, 4,000 miles away, and are returning to Britain to mature.

Andrew explained: “There are extensive reports of glass eels in great volumes in the River Severn catchment.

“One fisherman who had been elvering for 25 years said he has never seen anything like it.

“I spotted them four nights in a row on the River Parrett, just below a lock gate.

“I caught over 10,000 in a few seconds, before I then released them unharmed.

“The fish are thickly spread over many miles of river. Eel regulation is working,” added Andrew.

Elvers boost for threatened species

Environment Agency manager Dave Throup welcomed the news on increased eel numbers.

Dave, who covers Herefordshire and Worcestershire, said: “I haven’t been able to have a look this year, but it is great news.”

The European eel, Anguilla anguilla, is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list of threatened species.

It is thought that eel numbers are down by 90 per cent since the 1970s.

While migration issues and poor breeding success had been cited as causal factors for the decline, eels are subject to more sinister threats.

Angler’s Mail recently revealed that eel smuggler Gilbert Khoo was found guilty of smuggling more than £53million worth of live elvers out of the UK via Heathrow Airport.

London’s Southwark Crown Court sentenced Khoo, of Chessington, South West London, to 24 months imprisonment on each of three counts, but each was suspended for two years, so he walked free. No financial penalty was imposed on him, because hearings to retrieve the proceeds of crime will take place in the future.

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