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Electrofishing, Introduction


What Is Electrofishing?

Electric fishing (or electrofishing) has been proven to be a highly efficient and essential technique for monitoring fish populations in rivers and lakes, and performing rescue and relocation work of fish stocks.

Electrofishing is the process of catching fish by creating an electrical-field through water, around an anode (on a hand held pole) and cathode (trailing in the water behind the operator). This electric-field develops a voltage along the length of fish exposed to it, such that "galvanotaxis" stimulates their nervous system, and they are forced to swim towards anode (the source of the field).

At a point approaching the source of the field, the fish enters the hold-zone, where the field is then of sufficient strength to temporarily immobilise them and thus aid in their capture.

Three main categories of electrofishing equipment exist...


  • Backpack machines
  • Bank-side machines
  • Boat mounted machines

What Are The Hazards Of Electrofishing

Due to the use of high-voltage electric fields in the presence of water, electrofishing is a potentially hazardous activity, for both the operator and surrounding personnel, unless correct safety and operational guidelines are observed.

The "Safety Considerations" page discusses the potential hazards in further detail.


Where Can I Electro-Fish

Many countries impose legal restrictions, legislation and regulations on the use of electrofishing techniques. Before using your fishing system you should always check with the government agency that has overall responsibilities for regulating fisheries in your geographical location.


  • In the England and Wales, further information should be obtained from the Environment Agency
    (see www.environment-agency.gov.uk).
  • In Scotland, further information should be obtained from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency
    (see www.spea.org.uk).
  • In Northern Ireland, further information should be obtained from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency
    (see www.ni-environment.gov.uk).


E-Fish (UK) Limited gratefully acknowledge the information supplied by the UK Environment Agency from which sections of the content of this article have been reproduced or adapted.
Please Note that the content of these pages is for general information purposes only and does not constitute 'advice'. Readers should always consult their specific product documentation, and seek the advice of an appropriately qualified professional before undertaking any electrofishing activity. For further information, please refer to our "Disclaimer" page.