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Glass eel (Anguilla anguilla L.) behaviour after artificial intake by adjusted tidal barrage management
Van Wichelen, J.; Verhelst, P.; Buysse, D.; Belpaire, C.; Vlietinck, K.; Coeck, J. (2021). Glass eel (Anguilla anguilla L.) behaviour after artificial intake by adjusted tidal barrage management. Est., Coast. and Shelf Sci. 249: 107127. https://hdl.handle.net/10.1016/j.ecss.2020.107127
In: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. Academic Press: London; New York. ISSN 0272-7714; e-ISSN 1096-0015, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Anguilla anguilla (Linnaeus, 1758) [WoRMS]
Author keywords
    Glass eel; Tidal barrages; Upstream migration; Water management; Eel ladder; Europe; Belgium; Yser estuary

Authors  Top 
  • Van Wichelen, J., more
  • Verhelst, P., more
  • Buysse, D., more

Abstract
    Tidal barrages on water ways constitute a major threat for diadromous fish species such as the critically endangered European eel (Anguilla anguilla L.). An unobstructed migration route between the spawning area in the Sargasso Sea and the freshwater growth habitats in Europe is crucial for the European eels’ long-term survival. Every spring however, millions of glass eels arrive at the European coast to find their inland migration route blocked. Adjusted tidal barrage management (ATBM), i.e. setting the tidal sluice doors ajar during tidal rise, is one of the mitigation measures to enhance glass eel colonisation. Although this management substantially improves the number of incoming glass eels, the fate of these migrants, confronted with abruptly shifting conditions upon sluice passage, remains un-investigated. Glass eel upstream dispersion after sluice passage by means of ATBM was investigated in a drainage canal connecting a small estuary with an adjacent polder area in Belgium. Large numbers of glass eel caught with eel ladders installed at a pumping station about 800 m upstream the tidal barrage indicate that glass eels were well able to switch to an active counter current swimming behaviour to continue upstream dispersion. On the other hand, some glass eels did not initiate active migration but settled in artificial substrates placed in the canal instead. These residents however appeared very successful in using the canal as feeding ground and in time substantially increased their overall fitness. The appearance of both migration strategies (switch to active migration or successful settlement) in this canal shows the potential of ATBM as a valuable tool for the management and restoration of the European eel population and calls for a wide application of this cost-efficient mitigation measure.

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