Lottery Will Allow New Licenses For Maine’s Elver Fishery


Starting November 15, the Maine Department of Marine Resources will be implementing a lottery to allow at least seven new licenses to be issued for the 2018 season, which starts March 22, 2018.

The lottery, authorized during the past legislative session, is available to Maine residents who are at least 15 years of age by the start of the 2018 season, and who are eligible to purchase an elver license in 2018 because they have not had their right to obtain an elver license suspended.

Each new license holder will receive a minimum of four pounds of quota, which at the most recent season’s average value could amount to nearly $6,000 of income.

“Maine’s elver fishery is by far the most valuable on a per-pound basis,” said Maine Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher. “We’re pleased to be able to provide new opportunity for commercial fishing in Maine, or perhaps a chance for an existing fisherman to diversify into another fishery.”

The cap on licenses was established at 425, seven more than are currently eligible for renewal in 2018. If additional license-holders choose not to renew their license by the end of the year, more licenses will be available through the lottery.

Individuals can enter the lottery online at: The Department is not accepting applications sent by mail. However, applicants may come to the DMR offices in Augusta to complete the application on paper. DMR will be accepting online lottery applications between noon on November 15, 2017 and 5 pm on January 15, 2018. DMR offices will be closed January 15, 2018 due to the holiday, so those who plan to submit paper applications may do so until 4:30 p.m. on Friday, January 12, 2018.

By law, each individual will be allowed to submit up to five applications at a cost of $35 per application. Those who submit applications online will incur an additional processing fee of $2 per application. $25 of the application fee will be deposited in the Eel and Elver Management Fund, which is used to research and manage the State’s eel and elver resources, to enforce laws related to eels and elvers, and to cover the costs associated with determining eligibility for elver fishing licenses. By law, $10 is provided to the Department to fund Department costs associated with administering the lottery.

The Department of Marine Resources last held a lottery for elver licenses in 2013. The Legislature suspended any further lotteries after that season because of the overall state quota established by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission which reduced the amount available for every licensed harvester.

The overall quota has remained at 9,688 pounds for the past three seasons and the individual quotas have been stable. Each year the Department has redistributed any quota associated with licenses that are not renewed, or held by individuals who are suspended for the duration of the season, to existing license holders.

A frequently asked questions document can be found online. Anyone with questions about the lottery can contact the Maine Department of Marine Resources at 207-624-6550, Option 2.