Regulators delay decision on new elver quota

PORTLAND, Maine — Federal regulators balked Thursday at a chance to set a new quota for Maine’s lucrative baby eel fishery.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s American Eel Management Board met in Alexandria, Virginia, to vote on recommendations for the fishery, which has grown in volume and value in recent years, but deadlocked without reaching a decision. Federal officials have said the recommendation could range from keeping the status quo of a nearly 6-ton quota to closing the fishery.

In addition to a new quota, the board is also considering enacting harvest allowances for aquaculture purposes. The board will revisit the issue with a potential final vote in late October, a spokeswoman said.

The fisheries commission said in a statement that American eel populations in U.S. waters are depleted because of a combination of overfishing, habitat loss, changes in predation, environmental changes, contaminants and disease.

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