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Elver fishermen hope pre-pandemic prices return

Elvers brought more than $2,000 per pound prior to the pandemic, but prices plummeted last year.

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine’s baby eel fishermen hope for a more stable season in 2021 as they seek one of the most valuable natural resources in New England.

The fishermen seek elvers so they can be sold as seedstock to Asian aquaculture companies.

They are then raised to maturity and sold as food like sushi.

Maine has the only significant fishery for the eels in the U.S. They sometimes fetch more than $2,000 per pound.

The season started on Monday. That's just over a year after the coronavirus pandemic upended the 2020 season. Prices plummeted last year.

Sergeant Colin MacDonald with the Maine Marine Patrol said prices this year are at 1000 a pound. MacDonald and other Marine Patrol officers went to several locations on Monday to make sure everyone started the season on a level playing field. 

"Opening day is usually fairly busy", MacDonald said. "Everybody’s kind of bidding for their spots. It's really like first come, first serve so I mean you got some people here that have been sitting here for multiple days. Some of the streams people have been 4 days sleeping in their vehicles waiting for opening day just to get that spot that they want."

MacDonald says the department has done a really good job by adding a quota system and eliminating some of the volatile issues that have come up in the past.


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