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Business and Economy

USDA Funds Aim to Boost Maine-Harvested Eel Products

PORTLAND, Maine - A midcoast company that grows Maine-harvested baby eels to market size is getting some help from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

American Unagi founder Sara Rademaker says the Thomaston company will get about $49,000 to help explore products made from the adult eels.

"Eel is commonly eaten as unagi kabayaki, which is what you see in sushi restaurants, so I'm looking at that product," Rademaker says. "And we're also looking at smoked products."

Elvers are typically harvested and sold to Asian fish farmers who grow them to full size for a substantially higher price. But Radamaker's company is hoping to keep the process local.

The USDA money is from a grant program to help farmers, ranchers, small businesses and entrepreneurs develop new product lines. Several other Maine companies also received funding.