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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Lough Neagh stocked with 1.5 million juvenile eels

Lough Neagh Fisherman’s Cooperative has continued its work to grow a healthy population of eels in the largest fresh water lake on the island of Ireland.

On Saturday morning past (2 April), the team set off on the lough, with a cargo of 1.5 million glass eels.

Glass eels measure no bigger than a pinkie and look more like earthworms than fish. They are at the juvenile life stage and can eventually grow up to over a meter long.

CEO of Lough Neagh Fisherman’s Cooperative, Patrick Close, told Love Ballymena:

“The introduction to the Lough on Friday last of approximately 1.5 million juvenile eels was the latest in a programme extending back a number of years.

“On this occasion the glass eels were sourced from GB (Rivers Severn & Parrett). These are river basins where scientific study confirms that there are more of these fish than the relevant headwaters can successfully accommodate.

“It makes sense to transfer the surplus to other water bodies which have carrying capacity such as Lough Neagh. Previously many of these fish would have been sold to continental eel farms.

“The fish will live and grow in the natural surrounds of Lough Neagh for up to 20-25 years before they mature to become silver eels and head off to the Sargasso Sea to breed and die at the end of their life cycle.

“Some will be fished for by fishermen in due course 7/10 years down the line, but fishing is heavily regulated to ensure that a very significant percentage can escape to make the return journey 3500 miles across the Atlantic to the Sargasso.”


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