Tell the Federal Government to list the American Eel under the Species at Risk Act.
The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada assessed the American Eel in 2012 and listed it as Threatened. The species’ numbers have plummeted due to a number of threats, primarily barriers to upstream migration and turbines that kill adults returning to the sea. Listing the American Eel would protect the species and the need for protection is urgent.
To: The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson (Minister of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans)
I understand that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is in the final stages of developing listing advice to Cabinet on whether or not to add American Eel to the Species at Risk Act. Your department has been reviewing this listing for over three years, and yet your final listing decision remains unclear and undelivered.
The American Eel has declined dramatically in the Upper St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers, and I am concerned that delaying the listing of the American Eel could have dire consequences.
We’ve already lost so much of the species’ population. For example, in 2017, only 7,000 American Eels returned to Lake Ontario via the Moses-Saunders eel ladders. But in the early 1980s, 1 million eels made the same trek and were able to return to Lake Ontario. It’s clear that we need federal action to protect and recover the species.
As it stands, the American Eel is listed as Endangered in Ontario, but there are plenty of other barriers that continue to kill the American Eel and prevent upstream passage. The government of Quebec has not listed the American under the Act Respecting Threatened or Vulnerable Species, and as a result, the Quebec portion of the shared waters of the Ottawa River remain unprotected.
This species clearly needs federal protection under the Species at Risk Act. I urge you to act now before we lose the species entirely.