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Officials: Maine Elver Harvest at Almost 80 Percent of Annual Quota

Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press
In this May 19, 2015, file photo, baby eels, known as elvers, swim in a plastic bag at a buyer's holding facility in Portland.

After a slow start, Maine fishermen are closing in on their annual harvest quota for baby glass eels more than a month before the season officially ends.

Jeff Nichols, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Marine Resources, said the eels — known as elvers — are currently fetching around $1,300 a pound from dealers, who can’t ship the catch to Asian markets fast enough.

“We’re probably at almost 80 percent of the total quota, harvesters have landed over 7,500 pounds of the 9,616 of the overall quota and that leaves a couple of thousand pounds left to harvest,” he said.

Nichols said members of Maine’s Indian tribes have either reached or all but reached their quotas for the elver season that ends June 7. No new licenses are currently being issued for the fishery, but lawmakers are expected to take up a bill that could open the elver harvest up to new fishermen through a license lottery system.