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The Glaven Eel Project



The European eel (Anguilla anguilla) is a fascinating and critically-endangered, red list species with a mysterious and little-understood life cycle. It has strong connections to the River Glaven on the north Norfolk coast - an internationally rare chalk river running 17 km from its source to sea through the famous freshwater marsh and salt marsh at Blakeney.

Eels have been at the core of the Glaven ecology and local culture for hundreds of years but have suffered a steep decline in numbers over recent decades.

This Glaven Eel Project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, ran from February 2015 to March 2018. Most excitingly the project re-connected current generations with the eel, its folklore and traditions and with the few-remaining eel catchers who made their living from the eel - before these connections are lost forever. It also increased scientific knowledge about the eel, improved eel habitat and encouraged an increase in eel numbers in the river catchment.

European eel

European eel

Thus, the three main project themes were:

  • Improving the understanding of, and awareness about, eels in the River Glaven, with particular focus on engaging with local school children and other members of the local community.
  • Improving the River Glaven habitat to encourage an increase in eel numbers.
  • Increasing scientific knowledge about eels in the River Glaven.

The project was led by the Norfolk Coast Partnership, with the support of the Norfolk Rivers Trust and the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. It was guided by an expert Steering Team of project partners and experts.

Project partners included:

  • The Norfolk Coast Partnership.
  • The Norfolk Rivers Trust.
  • The Norfolk Wildlife Trust.
  • The Environment Agency.
  • The River Glaven Conservation Group.
  • The National Trust.
  • University College London.
  • The Zoological Society of London.
  • Six local primary schools.
  • Landowners.
  • Members of the local community.
Illustration for The Glaven Eel Project

These webpages document the activities undertaken in delivery of the project.