Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to hold public hearing
on American eel management plan on April 11
DOVER (April 3, 2013) – The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) will hold a public hearing in Delaware at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 11 to gather public comment on a draft addendum to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for American eel. The hearing will be held in DNREC’s Auditorium at 89 Kings Highway in Dover.
The draft addendum proposes a wide range of management options with the goal of reducing mortality and increasing the conservation of American eel stocks across all life stages. Specific management options focus on the commercial American eel fisheries – glass, yellow, and silver eel life stages – as well as recreational American eel fisheries. The addendum also proposes increased monitoring by the states and recommendations to improve American eel habitat.
The addendum responds to the findings of the 2012 benchmark stock assessment, which indicated the American eel population in U.S. waters is depleted. The stock has declined in recent decades, and the prevalence of downward trends in surveys across the coast is cause for concern. Likely causes of decline may be attributed to a combination of historical overfishing, habitat loss, food web alterations, predation, turbine mortality, environmental changes, toxins and contaminants, and disease.
Commercial regulations vary by state. Glass eel fisheries currently occur in Maine and South Carolina. Significant yellow eel fisheries occur in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, the Potomac River, Virginia and North Carolina. Although commercial fishery landings and effort in recent times have declined in most regions, current levels of fishing effort may still be too high given the depleted nature of the stock. States and jurisdictions are required to annually report on commercial harvest and monitor juvenile abundance. The recreational fishery is currently regulated by a 50-eel-per-day creel limit and a 6-inch size minimum, although recreational harvest is believed to be low.
Anglers, commercial fishers and other interested groups are encouraged to provide input on draft addendum by attending the public hearing or submitting written comments. The draft addendum is available for review on ASFMC’s website www.asmfc.org under Breaking News, or by contacting ASFMC at 703-842-0740.
The public comment deadline is 11:59 p.m. May 2, 2013. Comments should be sent by mail to Kate Taylor, Senior Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, 1050 N. Highland Street, Suite 200 A-N, Arlington, VA 22201; faxed to 703-842-0741 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line: American eel. For more information, please contact Kate Taylor at email@example.com or 703-842-0740.
Final action on the addendum is expected in May.
Vol. 43, No. 125