For the past several years, there has been a simmering dispute — sometimes boiling — between Maine state officials and the Passamaquoddy Tribe over the elver fishery.
The state, citing concerns about the number of American eels, has sought to limit the tribe’s ability to issue licenses to its members for fishing elvers, or baby eels. There have been closed-door negotiations between the two sides which nearly resulted in an accord earlier this year, but they remain divided. Because of concerns about the safety of their members, Passamaquoddy officials have said, they reluctantly agreed on the eve of opening day to set individual quotas for tribal fishermen for the 2014 season.
But this is a short-term maneuver, tribal officials have said. Long term, they plan to continue the fight on a broader scale.
“The Passamaquoddy Tribe needs to move this debate beyond Maine,” Fred Moore III, the tribe’s fisheries coordinator, said Tuesday. “It’s too late to stop the natives now. We’ve woken up.”