Eel, American (also known as “yellow” or “silver” eel)
The American eel is known to have high concentrations of mercury and PCBs, toxic chemicals that can prove harmful to human health.
American eels are typically wild-caught in both freshwater and marine habitats all along the Atlantic coast, from Greenland to the tip of northern South America. Eel landings have experienced a decline during the last few decades due to habitat loss, pollution and overexploitation, and the current status of the fishery is uncertain. Although a 2007 U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service report concluded that the American eel population is not in need of an endangered species designation, Canada has recently characterized it as a species of “Special Concern.” They are usually caught using pots or traps, and often as accidental catch by fishermen who are targeting different species (bycatch). The eel’s long life cycle and slow maturation render it vulnerable to overfishing, as eels do not reach sexual maturity until between the ages of 8 and 24.