Periodicities of inshore migration and selective tidal stream transport of glass eels, Anguilla japonica, in Hamana Lake, Japan
Recruitment of the three northern hemisphere eel species (European eel Anguilla anguilla, American eel Anguilla rostrata and Japanese eel Anguilla japonica) has reduced significantly over the past thirty-five years. The stock of the European eel is described as being outside safe biological limits, with urgent action required by European Union Member States to assist recovery of the panmictic stock. Stock recruitment models and estimates of silver eel output from a river catchment are strongly influenced by the degree of certainty in estimating key population parameters of each life history stage. Therefore, management decisions aimed at enhancing eel populations rely on sound scientific evidence, based upon a fundamental understanding of the complex anguillid eel life cycle. This review paper focuses on the estuarine entry phase of the eel life cycle and synthesises the current scientific knowledge with regard to glass eel migratory behaviour, sampling methods and abundance estimates within estuaries. Although the behavioural and environmental processes modulating glass eel migration patterns are reasonably well understood, site specific factors play a significant role in determining fine scale distribution patterns at an individual estuary level. Given the large resource commitment required to adequately sample this key life history stage, behavioural studies of migration patterns on a local scale are crucially important to aid the design of robust sampling programmes aimed at quantifying seasonal abundance and annual recruitment.