The Latest: US’s lucrative baby eel fishery will not expand
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The Latest on a decision about whether to expand baby eel fishing in Maine (all times local):
Regulators say the U.S.’s only significant fishery for baby eels will not be allowed to expand next year.
Maine fishermen seek the elvers in rivers and streams so they can be sold to Asian aquaculture companies. They often fetch more than $2,000 per pound, and the state is limited to a strict quota of less than 9,700 pounds per year.
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission shot down a proposal to increase the quota by 20 percent on Wednesday. Members of the commission expressed concern about the stability of the American eel population and said they preferred a conservative approach.
Maine’s elver season takes places every spring. The elvers are eventually used to make Japanese food products that get exported all over the world.
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.