Written by Jen Finn
In the coming weeks the Maine Department of Marine Resources will propose a method to more closely track elver landings for next year in an attempt to gain some control over the elver harvest.
Is this action enough?
Absolutely not. There remain fundamental questions that need to be addressed about this resource before a sustainable harvest can be achieved. But let’s look back to last year.
Last May, dozens of cars and trucks mysteriously appeared along the lower Penobscot River. Scores of nets lined the river below Veazie, and individuals with dip nets were common. The word was out: “The elvers have reached Bangor.” Scores of Maine’s elver fishermen from all over the state pulled their nets elsewhere and flocked to the shores of the Penobscot. After the season was over, reminders of their greed remained — ropes, lines and concrete blocks littered the shores of the Penobscot.
The people of Maine, the Legislature, DMR and National Marine Fisheries Service should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this pillage of a resource to continue. Little is known about eels and their populations.
For example, how many elvers are ascending our rivers, how many are being harvested, how many escape the gauntlet of nets, and how many are needed to maintain a viable adult population in each river?
Fisheries scientists don’t even know if the elvers ascending the Penobscot are the younger generation of adult eels from that river, or if they are a random group of elvers from adults up and down the Atlantic coast. What we do know is that it will be 20 or more years before the tiny elvers ascending the Penobscot will become adults and return to the ocean to spawn, long after those responsible for their management are gone.
Currently, nets are set a minimum distance apart, two out of seven days are closed to fishing, and we are told that most of the river — the center — is open for elver travel. Great, but is a tiny elver, the size of a toothpick, more likely to brave the surging spring current or hug the shore seeking nooks and eddies to make its way?
Read the full story at the Bangor Daily News>>
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