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Eels are probably not something you would like to cuddle up with, but they are an amazing fish in grave danger of totally disappearing from Ontario rivers. The American Eel is an endangered species that was once abundant in the upper St. Lawrence River, Ottawa River, and Lake Ontario and their tributaries.
Eels were once so plentiful they were an invaluable source of sustenance to First Nations and early European settlers, and more recently supported thriving commercial and sport fisheries.
Key to the American Eel’s survival and recovery is its ability to migrate. Their steep decline to a mere one percent of their original abundance has resulted from the cumulative effects of a multitude of hydroelectric dams that have killed, maimed, and cut off migration to their spawning area in the Sargasso Sea.
American Eels are born in the Sargasso Sea, near Bermuda, and drift on Atlantic currents to migrate inland into streams, rivers and lakes to mature. Before reaching their final life stage, both female and male American eels travel on an amazing journey all the way back to the Sargasso Sea to spawn and complete their life cycle.
To learn more about the American Eel, check out this feature article in Ontario Nature magazine – A Perilous Journey.
The provincial government requested your input into their action plan, known as a Government Response Statement, to the American Eel Recovery Strategy. This was an opportunity to support the survival and recovery of a species that has been completely wiped out from extensive areas of its native Ontario range, and is in steep decline where it still exists.
The American Eel Recovery Strategy is available on the Species at Risk website here, along with an Executive Summary here.
ORA has prepared a submission containing the key recommendations to help in the survival and recovery of the American Eel. You can find our recommendations here.
Thank you to those who took action on this important issue! 115 people people participated in ORA’s campaign to request that the government incorporate the goals and recommendations of the American Eel Recovery Strategy, as written, into the Government Response Statement.