Soaring demand in recent years for young American eels, which are often shipped to Asian markets to be raised for food, has generated fresh concern about the health of the species along the East Coast.
Last week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state investigators searched several locations from Maine to South Carolina as part of an investigation into the illegal eel trade, a law-enforcement official said. Young eels—known as elvers, or glass eels, because of their transparent appearance—are transported overseas to mature in aquaculture ponds.
Operation Broken Glass is examining possible violations of federal export law, said Col. Joe Fessenden, chief of marine law enforcement at Maine's Department of Marine Resources.