Document Type

Report

Department/Program

Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date

10-2002

Abstract

Measures of juvenile recruitment success have long been recognized as valuable fisheries management tools. In Chesapeake Bay, these measures provide reliable indicators for future year class strength for blue crabs (Lipcius and Van Engel, 1990), striped bass (Goodyear, 1985), as well as several other recreationally and commercially important species (Geer and Austin, 1999).

The American Eel, Anguilla rostrata, is a valuable commercial species along the entire Atlantic coast from New Brunswick to Florida. Landings along the U.S. Atlantic coast have varied from 290 MT in 1962 to a high of 1600 MT in 1975 (NMFS, 1999). In recent years, harvests along the U.S. Atlantic Coast seemingly declined, with similar patterns occurring in the Canadian Maritime Provinces. The Mid-Atlantic states (New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia) comprised the largest portion of the East Coast catch (88% of the reported landings) since 1988 (NMFS 1999). The Chesapeake Bay jurisdictions of Virginia, Maryland, and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission (PRFC) alone represent 30, 15, and 18% respectively, of the annual United States commercial harvest for 1987-1996 (ASMFC, 2000). Some fishery independent indices have shown a decline in American eel abundance in recent years (Richkus and Whalens, 1999). Hypotheses for this decline include locational shifts in the Gulf Stream, pollution, overfishing, parasites, and barriers to fish passage (Castonguay etal., 1994).

Fisheries management techniques aren't often applied to American eels because basic biological information is not well known. Unknown biological parameters such as variation in growth rates and length at age have complicated stock assessment methodologies and management efforts. Additionally, 3 relatively few studies have addressed the recruitment of glass eels to the estuaries from the spawning grounds of the Sargasso Sea.

Description

Submitted to Potomac River Fisheries Commission.

Keywords

American eel--Virginia; Eel fisheries--Virginia; American eel -- Potomac River

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