Where’s eel fishing data?

I read with interest “Scientists find shockingly good news about eels in PA river,” (October 2013) by Karl Blankenship. It was typical of the high level of reporting in the Bay Journal, which I have read for years, and which I value. I was dismayed, however, to read the statement that, “Overfishing, pollution and habitat alterations — especially the construction of dams — have taken a toll on eel numbers.”

Why do journalists invariably claim that overfishing has occurred on species x, y and z? It seems that journalists equate fishing with overfishing, that is, if there has been fishing, they automatically assume there has then been overfishing. Invariably, there is no basis for their claim, except in the few cases which have been subjected to a formal stock assessment, which is an extensive analysis of data to determine the status of a stock of fish

The stock assessments conducted on a coastwide basis in recent years have not found evidence of overfishing. What is the basis for Mr. Blankenship’s claim that overfishing has occurred?

Desmond M. Kahn
Biometrician, Fisheries Section
Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife