Growing Maine eels

SOUTH BRISTOL — “They are like little torpedoes,” Sara Rademaker says, looking down at a tank full of year-old eels in a feeding frenzy.

Her tone is fond, almost as if the eels wiggling in and out of a submerged laundry basket were a basket of lively kittens, but this is all business. Rademaker is doing what no one has tried to do in Maine before – grow out elvers to eels for the commercial food market.

Rademaker is a young woman, but has 12 years of farming and aquaculture experience. A graduate of Auburn University in Alabama, she’s worked with subsistence farmers in Uganda as part of a U.S. AID project and farmed tilapia in Ghana. She’s taught middle school students how to farm tilapia and lettuces.

Three years ago she began studying European and Asian systems for growing elvers into eels in contained areas, asking herself the question, why not here in Maine, the biggest source of American baby glass eels in the country?

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About the author

Jessica Hathaway

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman. She has been covering the fishing industry for 13 years, serves on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s Communications Committee and is a National Fisheries Conservation Center board member.

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