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The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's American Eel
Management Board has approved the Public Information Document (PID) on
American Eel for public review and comment. Atlantic coastal states from
Maine through North Carolina will be holding hearings on the PID
throughout April and May. Details for New Jersey follow:

May 5, 2005; 7 p.m.
Atlantic County Library
306 East Jimmie Leeds Road
Absecon, New Jersey
Hosted by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife
Contact: Bruce Freeman at 609-633-2408

In March 2004, the American Eel Management Board authorized development
of a PID to begin an informational scoping process in response to
concerns regarding coastwide declines in eel abundance. Canadian and
U.S. data show 2003 commercial landings are the lowest on record since
1945 and there are indications of localized recruitment failure in the
Lake Ontario/St. Lawrence River system. The International Eel Symposium
at the 2003 American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting reported a
worldwide decline of eel populations, including the Atlantic coast stock
of American eel.

The PID provides an overview of our current knowledge of American eel,
including stock status, a description of commercial and recreational
fisheries, and a suite of research and management issues for public
comment. These issues include potential changes to the management
programs for recreational and commercial fisheries, an evaluation of
non-fishing sources of mortality (e.g., habitat and predation), and a
review of the
plan's current monitoring requirements.

Depending upon the public's reaction and comment on the issues
presented in the PID, the Management Board may decide to pursue an
addendum to the American Eel FMP, or proceed with the development of an
amendment. An addendum would allow the Board to rapidly address
specific issues that the public feels require immediate attention, while
the amendment process would allow the Management Board to conduct
additional fact-finding and outreach activities for public participation
and comment on broader issues.

The Management Board may also decide to proceed on both an addendum and
an amendment to the FMP simultaneously. Through such a process, certain
issues would be resolved expeditiously via an addendum. Likewise, other
issues that require more information (e.g., data expected from the
pending stock assessment or federal status review) or are otherwise
inappropriate for an addendum may be more thoroughly examined over a
longer period of time via an amendment.

Fishermen and other interested groups are encouraged to provide input
the PID either by attending public hearings or providing written
Copies of PID are available via the Commission's website at
under Breaking News or by contacting the Commission at (202) 289-6400.
Public comment will be accepted no later than 5 p.m. on June 10, 2005,
should be forwarded to Lydia Munger, Fishery Management Plan
Coordinator, 1444 Eye Street, NW, Sixth Floor, Washington, DC 20005;
(202) 289-6051 (fax) or [email protected] (subject line: American Eel).

For more information, please contact Lydia Munger at (202)289-6400 or
[email protected].

782 Posts
Now I got no patience
So sick of complacence
With the d the e the f the I the a the n the c the e
Mind of a revolutionary
So clear the lane
The finger to the land of the chains
What? the land of the free?
Whoever told you that is your enemy?

-Rage Against the Machine

Fish Interrupted
Eels Killed at Maine Dam

Endangered Species Petition Filed

By Murray Carpenter

Doug Watts got mad when he discovered hundreds of eels?some five feet long and decades old?killed by the turbines of a dam on Maine?s Sebasticook River in mid-October. He alerted federal and state agencies, but both chose not to take any action against the dam operator. For another month, the dam kept cranking out electricity, and killing eels as they migrated seaward to spawn. For Watts, a longtime fish advocate from Augusta, it may have been the last straw.
In November, Watts and his brother Timothy Watts of Middleborough, Massachusetts, petitioned federal agencies to list American eels as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. It?s hard to imagine an endangered species listing that would encompass a more populous and developed swath of America. Virtually every stream and river from Florida to the St. Lawrence River has, or once had, an eel population. The fish have long had culinary and commercial value in New England?Native Americans used weirs to harvest eels throughout the region thousands of years ago.
Watts, President of Friends of the Kennebec Salmon, has been working to protect the fish of the Kennebec River watershed for years. And he is no stranger to the Endangered Species Act. In 1999 he signed on to a lawsuit challenging the federal government?s decision not to list Maine?s Atlantic salmon as endangered; the feds opted to list the fish later that year. And the Watts brothers will have some reputable allies on this campaign. The American Fisheries Society and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission have expressed concern over the eels? falling numbers.
The Benton Falls eel kill is notable for two reasons. It is representative of the problems that eels face throughout their range. And it was avoidable.

BACK IN AUGUST, Watts wrote a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), requesting that the turbines at the Benton Falls dam be shut down at night to allow safe passage for the eels. Watts cited a 2001 Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) study that showed fifty percent of the eels passing the dam are killed by the turbines. ?Severe eels kills like those documented by Maine DMR in 2001 have undoubtedly occurred every fall at the Benton Falls Project since it went on-line in 1988,? Watts wrote. ?Severe eel kills will undoubtedly occur at the Benton Falls Project this fall and every fall thereafter.?
In response, the dam owner, Arcadia Energy of Atlanta, Georgia, called the DMR evidence of a fish kill, ?inconclusive and inadequate.? It declined to voluntarily shut down the turbines at night.

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