Maine’s lucrative baby eel season is off to a slow start, with cold weather and resurgent foreign markets combining to depress catch and prices paid to fishermen, officials say.
Baby eels, called elvers, are Maine’s second most-valuable fishery after lobsters. The volume and value of the state’s elver fishery have boomed in recent years, with catch topping 18,000 pounds and $32 million in value for each of the past two years.
The state, concerned about overfishing, instituted a quota this year for the first time. But more than three weeks into the eight-week season, Maine elver fishermen have caught only about 2,900 pounds, about 1,000 pounds off last year’s pace and a quarter of the 11,749-pound quota, said Maine Marine Resources Commissioner Pat Keliher.