Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Measures of juvenile recruitment success have long been recognized as a valuable fisheries management tool. In the Chesapeake Bay, these measures have provided reliable indicators for future year class strength for blue crabs (Lipcius and van Engel, 1990), striped bass (Goodyear, 1985), and several other recreationally important fishes (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 there seems to be declining harvest, with similar pattems seen in the Canadian maritime providences. The Mid-Atlantic states (New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia) have comprised the largest portion of the East Coast catch (88% of the reported landings) since 1988 (NMFS 1999). The Chesapeake Bay jurisdictions ofVirginia, Maryland, and Potomac River Fisheries Commission (PRFC) alone represent 30, 15, and 18% respectively, of the annual United States (Gulf and Atlantic coast states) commercial harvest for the years 1987-1996 (ASMFC, 1999). Some fishery -independent indices have shown a decline in abundance in recent years (Richkus and Whalens 1999). Hypotheses for the decline include shifts in the Gulf Stream, pollution, over- fishing, parasites, and barriers to passage (Castonguay et al. 1994 ).

Many fisheries management teclmiques have not been applied to American eels because little basic biological infom1ation is known. Variation in growth rates, length at age, and other biological parameters has complicated stock assessment methodologies and management efforts. Additionally, few studies have addressed the recruitment of glass eels to the estuaries from the spawning grounds in the Sargasso Sea.


Submitted to Potomac River Fisheries Commission.



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



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