PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine fishing regulators say they have awarded the right to fish for valuable baby eels via a lottery system for the first time in five years.

The Maine Department of Marine Resources says on Wednesday that more than 3,000 people applied for 11 licenses. The baby eels, called elvers, are valuable because they are used as seed stock by Asian aquaculture companies to be raised to maturity for use as food.

The eels can be worth more than $2,000 per pound in a good year, and Maine is the only state in the country with a significant fishery for them.

Maine's elver fishermen are aging, and the state wants to get new people into the industry.

The new license holders will get a quota of a minimum of four pounds.