With the demand for eel continually on the rise, maintaining a sustainable and well-regulated market has become more important than ever before. In one of our previous blogs, we discussed the threat overfishing has caused to the species – but the good news is, that there is now a possible solution in the works.
A Nova Scotia company known as NovaEel Inc., has partnered up with Dalhousie University to create a more sustainable eel aquaculture by focusing on raising more female eels.
Why female eels?
Eels are ambisex, which means they can become either a male or female once they reach maturity - but unfortunately, both sexes do not grow to similar sizes.
“…males only grow to about 150 grams, while females can reach several kilograms. Most eels in captivity will be male, which does not yield enough product to be worthwhile,” Paul Smith, CEO of NovaEel told Dal News in a recent article.
To improve this imbalance, NovaEel has created a feminization process that ensures an increase in the female population. This results in bigger eels that are a marketable size that can meet the worldwide demand.
How does the feminization process work?
Before reaching maturity, glass eels undergo a procedure that utilizes an estrogen called estradiol that progressively causes them to develop into females. Although there are no immediate visible characteristics indicating this change, hormone levels can be used to verify the procedures success.
Is it safe?
According to NovaEel, this method is safe and causes no health hazards for humans. The hormone levels of the eels undergoing this procedure return to normal levels after a short period of time – making them safe for human consumption.
Although our primary focus at CSF is on lobster farming, we advocate sustainability across all aquatic life and we’re very excited about the steps NovaEel is taking to sustain the eel population while also meeting a worldwide demand.
If you would like to donate in the future of our fishery or donate to our habitat enhancement initiatives, please contact us here.