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Migration of eels tagged in the Baltic Sea and Lake Mälaren
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences. Institute of Freshwater Research, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9803-7260
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Eels (Anguilla spp) are in decline worldwide and the signs of a reduced recruitment have been observed in continental Europe ever since the early 1970s. In order to protect and recover the European eel, EU (the European Union) decided in 2007 to establish a recovery plan, aiming at protection and restoration. Stocking is, together with reduced fisheries and higher survival when passing hydro-electrical power plants, a measure accepted by the EU, and is today used by many European countries, according to their management plans. In the early 20th century eel stocking programs started in Sweden and in other countries around the Baltic Sea, and in Sweden the responsible authorities encouraged stocking activities already at the end of 19th century.In this study, tagging experiments were conducted to follow eel migration from Lake Mälaren and from four sites along the Swedish east coast in the Baltic Sea. Recaptured tagged eels were retrieved from the fishermen, allowing for the opportunity to investigate origin by otolith microchemistry and to discover morphological differences after tagging. Several changes took place; e.g. eye index increased while weight and condition decreased with migrated distance and time until recapture.A majority of the tagged eels in Lake Mälaren did not migrate out of any of the outlets in the eastern part of the lake, irrespective of their origin. Most of them were caught in the opposite direction and continued to be caught in the lake 1-3 years after tagging, with significant weight losses. Overwintering is suggested to be a poorly chosen option, but it is uncertain whether this is a natural behaviour or a result of translocation and restocking.Concerning coastal eels, origin had no effect on the migration behaviour; a majority of the tagged eels migrated towards the outlet of the Baltic Sea. Interestingly, a minority of the recaptured eels originated from stocked fish. Instead, they were dominated of natural immigrants who had spent most of their lives in brackish waters.

Keyword [en]
Anguilla anguilla, silver eel, Carlin tagging, stocking, otolith microchemistry, strontium
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Marine Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-113823OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-113823DiVA: diva2:787843
Available from: 2015-02-11 Created: 2015-02-11 Last updated: 2016-01-29Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Eel migration - results from tagging studies with relevance to management
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Eel migration - results from tagging studies with relevance to management
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In response to the drastic decline of the European eel (Anguilla anguilla (L.)) fisheries have been reduced and elvers are stocked in areas where natural abundances are low. Are these measures adequate? To answer different aspects of this question, we have analysed more than a century of eel tagging, using both traditional and more novel capture – recapture analyses. Based on these long-term data, we have evaluated the impact of the Swedish eel coastal fisheries using Survival analysis. Our analysis indicates that the fishing mortality just prior the 2009 fishing restrictions were in the order of 10%.

More recent tagging programs have focused on issues related to the fate of stocked fish. If and how they migrate out of the Baltic Sea and further on towards the Atlantic Ocean. Both earlier and our new studies reveal that all eels recaptured on the Swedish East Coast, no matter of their origin, migrate at a reasonable speed and direction towards the outlets of the Baltic Sea. Even though it is sometimes difficult to determine their origin, our analyses indicate that stocked fish were scarce among the recaptures. In an experiment on the Swedish West Coast, we knew the individuals’ origin (stocked or wild) and they had similar migration patterns.

In contrast, silver eel in Lake Mälaren – assumed to have been stocked as elvers or bootlace eels – seemed to have difficulties in finding the outlets. Instead they overwintered and lost weight. However, weight losses are also significant among non-stocked individuals in the Baltic Sea, both if they overwinter and if they appear to be on their way out from the area. It remains an open question whether eels from the Baltic region in general, and whether the overwintered fish in particular, manage to reach the spawning area in the Atlantic Ocean.

Based on current knowledge, I advocate invoking the precautionary approach and to concentrate Swedish eel stockings to the West Coast and allow the young fish to spread out on their own.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences, Stockholm University, 2015
Keyword
Anguilla anguilla, Migration, Stocking, Marking, Anguillicola crassus, Data storage tags, Carlin tagging, Strontium, Survival analysis, Dormancy, Lake Mälaren, Baltic Sea, Atlantic Ocean, Sargasso Sea
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Marine Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-113829 (URN)978-91-7649-097-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-04-17, the lecture hall, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences, Lilla Frescativägen 5, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Manuscript.

 

Available from: 2015-03-26 Created: 2015-02-11 Last updated: 2016-10-18Bibliographically approved

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