Coastal Action has been conducting two studies involving American eel since 2011: elver abundance study and silver eel study.
elver abundance study
We have been studying elver abundance on the East River in Chester since 2008. The project is a continuation of research originally carried out by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) which began in the late 1990s. Each year, the study starts in early spring between April and May. Typically, the run ends by mid-July and traps are removed.
The purpose of the study is to determine elver recruitment on the East River and use data to estimate how many elvers are arriving at Nova Scotia’s rivers. Data from the East River commercial fishery harvest, Fisheries and Oceans Canada research, and Coastal Action’s study are used to assess the health of elver populations in Nova Scotia and to determine whether elvers are being harvested in a sustainable manner.
silver eel study
Oakland Lake, Mahone Bay
In 2009, Coastal Action began conducting a mark-recapture study on Oakland Lake, Mahone Bay to assess the silver eel population. When American eels were captured, various biological measurements were taken and eels were tagged using Passive Integrated Transponder
(PIT) tags prior to release. Each PIT tag has a code which is used to identify individual eels when they are recaptured. Trapping in Oakland ended in 2014 and currently, the outflow is monitored every year in the fall for the presence of previously tagged eel completing their migration to the Sargasso Sea.
East River, Chester
In the Fall of 2014, a mark-recapture study began in East River, Chester to assess the eel population in the watershed. Beginning each September, traps are set and captured eels are measured for length, weight, eye diameter, and life stage. The eel captured in upstream traps are tagged using Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags so they can later be identified as recaptured if they enter the traps near the mouth of the river.
Biological characteristics as well as population estimates of American eel are monitored by these studies. Data acquired from this study are shared with stakeholders in order to collectively work towards the goal of a sustainable commercial fishery for elvers as well as the long-term viability of the species.