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Environment and Outdoors

Eel Industry, Amid Controversy, Might Be Allowed More Catch

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Robert F. Bukaty
/
Associated Press
In this May 25, 2017 photo, baby eels, also known as elvers, are held in Brewer, Maine.

PORTLAND, Maine - A regulatory board is about to decide if Maine's baby eel fishermen should be allowed to catch more of the tiny, big-money fish.
 
Fishermen in Maine are allowed to harvest a total of 9,688 pounds of the elvers per year. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is set to consider increasing that by about 20 percent on Wednesday.
 
Baby eels, called elvers, can be worth more than $2,000 per pound at docks because they are used by Asian aquaculture companies in the worldwide supply chain for Japanese food. Maine is the only state in the U.S. with a significant fishery for them.
 
Authorities shut down the fishery early this year because of concerns about illegal sales. The price this year was also even higher than typical.