temp image

Thames Catchment Community Eels Project

Eel Project Logo  Glass eel  Yellow eel

ARK have been working on this project in partnership with Thames Rivers TrustSouth East Rivers Trust and Thames21 to help the long-term survival of the European eel.

The rivers in the Thames catchment (including the Kennet and the Pang) have an immense natural and cultural heritage. The eel was once common, yet is now critically endangered.

Working closely with the Zoological Society of London and Thames Estuary Partnership we have developed a methodology for citizen science eel barrier walkover surveys (known as ObstacEELS) that allows trained volunteers to identify, assess and map barriers in rivers to eel migration. This new up to date data is helping us make strategic prioritisations for future fish passage projects, including eels.

For eels to fulfil their complex life cycle they need to be able to freely move up and down river systems before returning to the Sargasso Sea to spawn.


We have trained 31 volunteers to use ObstacEELS to identify, assess and map barriers on the Kennet and the Pang. ARK’s volunteers surveyed 163km of the River Pang and River Kennet.
To see data collected by ARK volunteers in the Kennet and Pang Catchments, scroll down to see our Fish Migration Vision. 

To see the data collected in the Thames Catchment click here.

Schools and wider community outreach

Innovative school eel workshops and assemblies were delivered at the river, in the classroom and through live online sessions with schools in the middle and lower Kennet catchment and the Pang catchment. We delivered workshops and assemblies in 9 schools and spoke to 668 pupils!

We’ve some really eely eel educational resources available, these can be downloaded.

Wherever possible we’ve reached out to communities to offer our riverbank walks. These have been relaxed opportunities for people of all ages to connect with nature through enjoying a leisurely strolls on their local riverbanks, discovering the fascinating life of the European eel and the problems it is facing, as well as taking in the wealth of other wildlife in and by these chalk streams. During this project ARK took 192 people on riverbank walks on the River Pang and River Kennet.
Talks were delivered in person or via Zoom, reaching a wide range of individuals and children and adult groups including Scout groups and environmental groups

Kids by river with eel lifecycle

ARK Fish Migration Vision

If you are having trouble viewing the StoryMap below click here to view full screen

To find out more read Thames Estuary Partnership’s Blog What is r-eely going on?

Listen to Talk of the Thames Podcast What is r-eely going on? Thames Catchment Community Project

Read Natural Apptitude’s December Blog, it’s all about ObstacEELS OurApp is Making a Splash in the Thames!

If you would like to find out more about the project email mia@riverkennet.org

This project was delivered between December 2020 and March 2022.

Partner Acknowledgements Band