Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Harvests of American eel along the U.S. Atlantic Coast have declined in recent years, and similar patterns have been noted in the Canadian Maritime Provinces as well as in Europe with its congener, A. anguilla (Ciccotti et al., 4 1995). Fishery independent indices of abundance have also shown a decline in American eel populations in recent years (Richkus and Whalen, 1999; Geer, 2003; Montane and Fabrizio, 2006). Possible explanations for this decline include Gulf Stream shifts, pollution, overfishing, parasites, and barriers to fish passage (Castonguay et al., 1994; Haro et al., 2000). In addition, local factors such as unfavorable wind-driven currents may affect glass eel survival on continental shelves and may have a greater impact than fishing mortality or continental climate change (Knights, 2003). Efforts to assess and manage American eel have been hampered by a lack of basic biological information, such growth rate and length at age. The ASFMC American Eel Fishery Management Plan (hereafter referred to as FMP) was adopted in 1999 and attempted to address these data gaps by encouraging coastal states to augment their American eel data collection efforts through both fishery-dependent and fishery-independent studies. Several states, including Virginia, each implemented an annual survey intended to quantify the recruitment of YOY American eel to estuarine and freshwater habitats. The development of these various state surveys began in 2000, and most were fully implemented by 2001. Besides quantifying glass eel recruitment success, these surveys have the potential to provide a more comprehensive understanding of physical and environmental factors affecting the American eel population.



American Eel, Potomac River, Anguilla rostrata, Fisheries


Award NA06NMF4740101 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States Department of Commerce