by John F. Foster

There are two fishes that have either been extirpated locally or are now endangered in the area of Prince Edward County. These once common fishes are the Atlantic Salmon and the American Eel.

The Atlantic Salmon, Lake Ontario population, was once very common in Lake Ontario. Before the 1890’s, Indigenous groups and settlers relied heavily on the Atlantic Salmon fishery for sustenance. But overfishing caused the Atlantic Salmon fishery to collapse in Lake Ontario. Now, almost a century and a half later, efforts are underway to reintroduce Atlantic Salmon back into Lake Ontario.1

The American Eel, Lake Ontario population, crashed just recently. The precipitous drop in the occurrence of the American Eel is due in large part to two dams on the St. Lawrence River. The American Eel migrates from Lake Ontario, navigates its way through the St. Lawrence River and Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean. It spawns in the Sargasso Sea. Young American Eels, returning from the Sargasso Sea, have difficulty getting past the two dams on the St. Lawrence, hence the population decline. Reintroductions are being done.2


Photo of American Eel                       Photo of Atlantic Salmon
by Joseph R. Tomelleri                       by Tom Moffatt/ASF


1 –Ruminski, Jarret. 2016. Atlantic Salmon – Lake Ontario’s ghost fish.  Nature Conservancy of Canada. (Accessed on Thursday, April 7, 2022)

2- Queen’s Printer for Canada. 2017. Hinterland Who’s Who – American Eel. (Accessed on Thursday, April 7, 2022).