U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, AESA Agree: American Eel Population Stable, Not Threatened

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has rejected a petition to list American eels as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), affirming AESA's repeated public statements attesting to the fishery’s sustainable operations.

According to the FWS, '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).'

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has rejected a petition from the Council for Endangered Species Act Reliability (CESAR) to list American eels as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), confirming that the species is “stable” and not in need of Federal protection. The announcement also affirms and reiterates the American Eel Sustainability Association’s (AESA) repeated public statements attesting to the fishery’s sustainable operations, thanks in large part to the sacrifices made by eel fishermen to ensure proactive, responsible resource management.

According to the FWS, “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).” This determination was reached after an extensive review of the most recent scientific data from several federal agencies and independent sources, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC).

The Service specifically cited “harvest quotas and mechanisms restoring eel passage around dams and other obstructions” as some of the proactive measures being taken to conserve the species, as well as one of the primary reasons the American eel is not under threat. The FWS also mentioned the species’ wide geographic range, as well as “flexibility and adaptability” in its lifecycle and habitat as reasons for the decision.

This is the second time that the Service has determined that American eel does not require protections under the ESA, first ruling in 2007 that eels were not “endangered.” These repeated findings support AESA’s position that the species is being sustainably harvested, and that current management by the ASMFC is ensuring the health and future viability of the eel stock. Through their adherence to strict quotas and support of responsible management, American eel fishermen have played a key role in maintaining today’s healthy populations.

AESA commends the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for its thorough review of American eel, as well as the ASMFC for its proactive management and conservation of the species. AESA will continue to advocate for strong and responsible eel management to safeguard the sustainability for the future.

The American Eel Sustainability Association (AESA) is a leading industry organization focused on the science and management of American eel. For more information about AESA and the American eel fishery, please visit http://www.americaneel.org.

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