The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced that American eel populations are stable and do not need protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Nonetheless, for the species’ long-term stability, the agency recommends continuing efforts to maintain healthy habitats, monitor harvest levels, and improve river passage for migrating eels.
The decision, also known as a 12-month finding, follows an in-depth status review on a 2010 petition to list the eel as threatened under the ESA. The review was largely based on a biological species report peer-reviewed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-Fisheries, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Forest Service, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Eel Technical Committee and academia.
After examining the best scientific and commercial information available regarding past, present and future stressors facing the species, the Service determined the eel’s single population is overall stable and not in danger of extinction (endangered) or likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future (threatened).
American eels remain widely distributed throughout much of their historical range, despite habitat loss and reduced numbers over the past century. New information reiterates their flexibility and adaptability by indicating that some eels complete their life cycle in estuarine and marine waters, contrary to former research that suggested eels required freshwater for growing to adulthood.
This is the second time the Service has evaluated the American eel for listing under the ESA and found listing not warranted. The first decision came in 2007 after an extensive status review. This 12-month finding will be published in the Federal Register on October 8, 2015. The finding and supporting documents can be found at http://www.fws.gov/northeast/americaneel/.
More information is available at: http://www.fws.gov/northeast/americaneel/
source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service