Baby eel fishermen hope year free of poachers, shutdowns

In this May 25, 2017 file photo, baby eels, known as elvers, to be held in Brewer, Maine. Elver season starts on Friday 22 March 2019, with the fishermen, in the hope that the big-money season isn’t interrupted by poaching, as it was in the previous season. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

PORTLAND, Maine – Maine fishermen began a few weeks of taking streams and rivers to fish for the baby eels on Friday marked the start of a high-stakes season harvesters hope that is not interrupted by poaching, as well as a year ago.

Fishermen in Maine use of nets to harvest baby eels, called elvers, to feed demand from Asian aquaculture companies, which they use as source material.

The small eels are the source of one of the most valuable fisheries in the country on a per-pound basis, and they were worth a record of more than $ 2,300 per pound last year. Maine is home to the only significant elver fisheries in the country.

Last year the season was closed two weeks earlier by the state regulators after investigators found that the illegal sale had caused the Maine to blow up in the past, quotas for the eel. New controls on the fishery are expected to clamp down on clandestine sales, and the use of a swipe card system for the recording of transactions remains in force.

Darrell Young, co-director of the Maine Elver Fishermen Association, said that the health of the fisheries is also dependent on members of the industry to “behave” around this time.

“Buyers wanted to find their way around the swipe cards. They just made it harder for everyone else,” Young said.

The elvers are raised to adulthood in aquaculture facilities, so that they can be used as food, such as kabayaki, skewered, filleted cut of the fish. The largest part of the eel is produced in China, and the fish is particularly popular as food in Japan. Some of the elvers harvested in Maine will eventually come back to the United States for use in sushi restaurants.

An interstate fish commission set the quota at 9,688 pounds. That was about the amount of elvers Maine fishermen harvested in 2014, when the regulators decided to tighten controls on the fisheries. The quota is more than 2,000 pounds higher.

The elver fishing season has the ability to June 7, but it ends earlier if fishermen in the quota for that time.

Elver fishing sometimes starts slow and warms in April and May, because the fishermen rivers and streams thaw before they can fish.

American elvers was especially valuable in the beginning of the 2010s, when other countries eel fisheries problems. They are worth anywhere from $875 to $2,366 per pound since.

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