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Impact of chemical pollution on Atlantic eels: Facts, research needs, and implications for management

Belpaire, Claude, Hodson, Peter, Pierron, Fabien, Freese, Marko
Current opinion in environmental science & health 2019 v.11 pp. 26-36
Anguilla anguilla, Anguilla rostrata, eel, habitat conservation, issues and policy, pollution, rearing, reproduction, spawning, watersheds, Sargasso Sea
Multiple eel species of the genus Anguillidae are under anthropogenic pressure. This review presents strong evidence that chemical pollution is a driving force behind the catastrophic decline in recruitment and abundance of both the European (Anguilla anguilla) and the American eel (Anguilla rostrata). In response to this crisis, stock and habitat management policies have blindly focused on increasing the areas available for the recruitment and rearing of yellow eels, and increasing the numbers of silver eels escaping to spawn in the Sargasso Sea. No specific policies or regulations have been adopted to foster recruitment of yellow eels to uncontaminated watersheds, to monitor the quality and condition of silver eels, or to protect silver eels from contaminated environments. Research is needed to identify existing and emerging contaminant problems, to understand their potential impacts on eel reproduction, and to develop indicators of spawner quality and management actions that would increase the likelihood of successful eel reproduction and recruitment.