Blue Ocean Institute

F08A

Species has a combination of problems such as overfishing, high bycatch, and poor management.
Eel, American (Unagi) These fish contain levels of mercury or PCBs that may pose a health risk to adults and children.

American Eels are late-bloomers, in terms of reaching sexual maturity and reproduction. They may not reproduce until they are 20 years old, and this makes them inherently vulnerable to fishing pressure because they cannot readily create new generations to replace the eels that are caught each year.

Using eel pots in coastal waters and nets in rivers, American Eels are caught before they can reproduce, which further decreases their abundance.

American Eels are born in salt water, travel to fresh water to live out most of their lives, and then return to salt water to reproduce. An accurate estimate of their population is unknown, but catches have decreased greatly over the last few decades, an indication of a dwindling population. Although management plans are in place, there is inadequate scientific monitoring of populations.

Full species report here.

This fish may have moderately high levels of mercury and PCBs that could pose a health risk to adults and children. More info here about mercury in eels. Check out our mercury in seafood section.