The Commercial Fishery for American Eel, Anguilla rostrata (Lesueur), in Lake Ontario


D A. Hurley

Publication Date



American eel, Anguilla, barriers, bypass, eels, fishing, hydroelectric, hydroelectric dams, migration

Journal or Book Title

Transactions of the American Fisheries Society


Commercial fishermen thought the eel fishery in Lake Ontario was threatened by increased fishing pressure and the Moses-Saunders hydroelectric dam in the upper St. Lawrence River. The catch declined from 1959 through 1970 in some areas of the lake, but catch per unit of effort generally remained constant, mainly because effort decreased. Setlines, hoopnets, and trapnets are all used in the fishery. Samples of eels from the fishery examined each year from 1964 through 1971 showed that hoopnets caught the largest eels and setlines, the smallest; the average length of eels decreased from 1964-1965 values; and the number of eels in the 900 and 1000-mm length classes declined sharply after 1964, but increased in the 500, 600, 700-mm classes. Decrease in average size of eels was almost certainly the result of increased fishing pressure; effort, especially in the setline fishery, fluctuated rapidly in response to changing levels of catch. The Moses-Saunders dam has not been a complete barrier to the migration of eels into Lake Ontario, but the way they bypass the dam is not known





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