Elver Season in Full Swing

By Sarah Craighead Dedmon

 

Fyke nets tethered along local rivers tell passersby that Maine’s elver season is in full swing. As of April 19, Maine elver fishermen reported 3,450.88 pounds of juvenile American eels landed. The state’s overall 2018 quota is 9,688 pounds, which is divided between the DMR and the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot tribes. This year’s season runs from March 22 to June 7.

Preliminary 2017 landings data shows that the statewide elver catch was 9,343 pounds for a total value of $12,155,672. The Portland Press Herald reported this season’s price at $2,608 per pound as of March 30, one of the highest elver prices on record. The juvenile eels migrate to Maine from the Sargasso Sea near the Bahamas and Bermuda. After being captured in Maine they are shipped live to Asia where they are raised to maturity and sold for the Asian food markets. Maine is the only state with a significant elver fishery, and DMR licenses are issued via lottery.