PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided not to list American eels under the Endangered Species Act.
A spokesman for the service informed The Associated Press about the decision on Wednesday. The California-based Center for Environmental Science, Accuracy & Reliability wanted the federal government to classify the eels as threatened.
The petitioners say the eels have lost more than 80 percent of their habitat and suffer from commercial fishing pressure.
Fishermen and fishing advocacy groups campaigned against additional protections for eels. Listing them under the Endangered Species Act would have severely limited the ability to harvest them as a commercial species.
Maine baby eels are used in sushi and were worth more than $2,100 per pound in 2015. States including Maryland and Delaware also have fisheries for older eels.