09/19/08 — Eel, dogfish population concerns NCRWC

View Archive

Eel, dogfish population concerns NCRWC

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on September 19, 2008 12:49 PM

MOREHEAD CITY -- Two aquatic species are making waves within several states along the eastern seaboard, including North Carolina.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will be holding public hearings and accepting written comments regarding the management of the American Eel and the Spiny Dogfish through Oct. 16.

The American Eel Management Board initiated the public comment period due to biologists' continued concern over the declining number of young eel being recorded in the wild.

"American Eel actually do things in reverse of most diadromous fish," said N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries representative Jim Vasslides. "They move into the state's estuaries where they grow to adulthood, then they return to the ocean to spawn and complete their life cycle.

"Most fish that have both salt water and freshwater life stages grow in the ocean, then return to the estuaries to spawn."

Population decline and destruction of spawning routes are primary concerns for the board, who will consider several management strategies such as season closures, size restrictions and stream protection measures.

"There are two main eel fisheries in the state," said Vasslides. "Young eel are a popular bait fish, used by coastal fishermen. Adult eel are used for food and in some cases exported for that purpose."

In North Carolina, the Division of Marine Fisheries will conduct a public meeting to discuss eel management at the Washington Square Mall in Washington on Oct. 9 at 6 p.m.

Written comments may be submitted via email to comments@asmfc.org (American Eel).

The Spiny Dogfish and its commercial fishing quota numbers have states from North Carolina to Maine asking for public input.

Currently the dogfish quota numbers are set prior to the fishing season and then distributed regionally. The northern region (ME-CT) receives 42 percent of the quota, while the southern region (NY-NC) fishes 58 percent.

Due to changing migratory patterns, the northern region has exceeded its quota in recent years while the southern region has held steady.

Options for better allocating the quota include restructuring the regional percentages, eliminating the seasonal allocation or transitioning to a state-by-state distribution system.

Interested parties can submit their comments two ways. Either by attending a public meeting, or by sending a written comment to comments@asmfc.org (Spiny Dogfish).

A full list of public meetings discussing both the American Eel and the Spiny Dogfish can be found on the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries website.