The only significant state fishery for baby eels in the United States has blown past records for value as high demand from overseas aquaculture companies is driving prices to new heights.
Fishermen in Maine search for the eels, called elvers, in rivers and streams every spring so they can be sold to Asian aquaculture companies as seed stock. Fishermen have sold more than $20 million worth of the eels so far this season.
That is the highest total since interstate managers instituted a quota system for the eels in 2014. The previous record was $13.4 million, and fishermen still have until June 7 to catch more of the eels this year.
The eels are raised to maturity and used in Japanese cuisine. Some are exported back to the U.S. for use in restaurants.