Monitoring of the commercial eel harvest is an opportunistic practice that has been employed by Qalipu Mi’Kmaq First Nation Band for a number of years to collect, document or to track temporal variation/changes in the population dynamics of population information of the American eel (Anguilla rostrata). This includes individual weight, length, life stage ratio, and abnormalities such as red mouth and skin lesions. The American eel is a very culturally significant species for the Mi’kmaq people of Newfoundland. Along with being an important food source the American eel is also used for ceremonial and medicinal purposes. It is for these reasons that we are studying the local population in Muddy Hole, Western Newfoundland, and Little Horwood Brook, Central Newfoundland.
This project involves cooperating with local fish harvester’s in Western and Central Newfoundland and recording a number of biological characteristics of the eels captured by the harvester. Work was done through collaborating with local fish harvesters as to satisfy the community engagement portion of our Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy agreement. This opportunistic monitoring was beneficial to Qalipu, local harvesters and the eel population as additional nets were not set in the study areas. This reduced the amount of working hours required to complete the study, competition for catch with local harvesters, and stress on the eel population. Parks Canada employees also took part in monitoring at the western field site.