elver harvest

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

The quota for Maine's most valuable fishery by weight won't be increasing. The board of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission voted down a proposal to increase the amount of elvers fishermen could catch by about 20 percent.

The vote comes after the elver season ended early this year because of illegal sales of the baby eels. Maine Department of Marine Resources Jeff Nichols says the quota will stay at just under 10,000 pounds.

Eel Industry, Amid Controversy, Might Be Allowed More Catch

Aug 8, 2018
Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

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.
 

Robert F. Bukaty / Maine Public

State officials are shutting down the Maine elver season early, citing illegal sales of the valuable "glass" eels coveted by Asian aquaculture businesses.

The Department of Marine Resources (DMR) says a Marine Patrol investigation found some elver dealers paid cash to licensed harvesters without registering the eel sales through the state's official swipe card system, and they did so at prices less than those for properly tracked eels.

"You have to assume there's some greed involved here," says DMR spokesperson Jeff Nichols.

A Maine fisherman who played a key role in the rise of the state's baby eel fishery is awaiting sentencing for buying and selling the fish illegally.

Robert F. Bukaty / AP Photo

Three more men were sentenced yesterday in the interstate baby eel poaching sting known as "Operation Broken Glass."

Robert F. Bukaty / AP Photo

The price of elvers in the first few days of the season, is being reported as the highest ever for the fishery.

Maine has the only significant fishery for the young eels, also called elvers, in the country. The Elver season started Thursday March 22, and the Maine Department of Marine Resources is reporting they're currently selling for just over $2,800 a pound.

PORTLAND, Maine - A decision whether to allow fishermen to harvest more of the baby eels that are highly prized in Asian aquaculture has been put off for a few months.
 
Maine has the only significant fishery for baby eels, called elvers, in the country. The interstate Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is considering allowing the fishery a higher quota in future years.
 

PORTLAND, Maine - The pace of Maine's season for baby eel fishing has intensified to the point where fishermen are on target to reach their quota.

Maine's baby eels, called elvers, are an important piece of the worldwide sushi market. They are raised to maturity by Asian aquaculture companies that use them as food.