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Catch an Eel in the Ottawa River, Here’s What You Need to Do

The American eel is an endangered species in Ontario. Make sure you do this if you catch one from the Ottawa River.

A group of friends discovered a surprise on the end of their fishing line June 13 while fishing a stretch of the Ottawa River at Britannia Beach – a wriggling American eel. Once a common sight on the river, the population has plummeted by up to 98 percent over the years.

“That’s always really exciting for us to hear,” said Meaghan Murphy, a staff scientist with the Ottawa Riverkeeper. “Their populations on the Ottawa River have plummeted … in the last 30 or 40 years, mostly as a result of dams and their inability to access these waterways.”

It should be noted that all eels caught should be promptly released.

The Ottawa River has a total of 21 dams and only one offers safe passage for eels. This takes a toll on the species during migration.

So what should you do if you happen to catch an eel? Make sure you take a photo and contact the Ottawa Riverkeeper, the Canadian Wildlife Federation or the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources to report the findings. The same advice applies if you come across a dead one.

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Catch an Eel in the Ottawa River, Here’s What You Need to Do