Sunday, December 26, 2004

Did I Eat an Endangered Species on Christmas Eve?

Two brothers, one from Massachusetts, the other from Maine, are trying to get American eel (a traditional Christmas Eve fish) listed as an endangered species. The Hartford Courant has an AP story (with one of those fake-clever first paragraphs that overworked and reporters fall back on -- and I should know, having fallen back on them more than once in the past). Read it and then scroll through the brothers' petition to the federal government:

"The American eel is in steep decline across its range in the United States of America. Juvenile recruitment to the St. Lawrence River system and Lake Ontario has virtually ceased during the past decade. The number of juvenile eels migrating into the St. Lawrence River has fallen from 935,000 individuals in 1985 to approximately 8,000 in 1993 and to levels approaching zero in recent years (ASMFC 2000)."


"U.S. harvests of American eel on the Atlantic Coast have declined 64 percent of the long-term average since 1950; almost 44 percent below the 20-year average; and about 30 percent below the five year average, based on 2002 harvest reports collected by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Geer 2004). "

The petition includes statements from Eric Smith and Gordon Colvin, who oversee Connecticut's and New York's marine fisheries programs, respectively, that seem to indicate that the problem is real, to say the least.


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