Freshwater Eels, Anguillidae

Anguillidae is a family of nineteen species and six subspecies of freshwater eels that reside in freshwater lakes, rivers, and estuaries. These eels are long and snake-like in shape with a large head and the dorsal fins typically merge with the anal and caudal fins, creating a fringe on the end of the body. The pectoral fins are small and the scales are soft and thin. Anguillidae eels migrate to the ocean in order to spawn and can be found in many areas including the North Pacific Ocean and the Sargasso Sea.

Eels in the Anguillidae family are important for the food industry and popular species include the Japanese eel, the long-fin eel, and the short-finned eel. Although most eel trading has been conducted in Japan, Taiwan, and Korea, there has been a recent increase in eel trading in China. Because eels in the Anguillidae family are so popular, Seafood Watch recommends that consumers do not buy them in order to preserve their currently low population numbers.

Although catches in the wild have declined in the past few decades, certain farming practices have continued to cause a decline in the eel population. These include the practice of catching young, wild eels and raising them in farms before they are sold and using open net pens, which release waste, toxins, and parasites into the wild eel populations. Seafood Watch has developed a list of sustainable and non-sustainable seafood lists in order to help protect these species and others survive.

Image Caption: Anguillarostratakils. Credit: Frieda/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)