Glass Eels: Big Rewards, More Regulations
by Laurie Schreiber
ELLSWORTH—The high price to be fetched for glass eels, also called elvers, has resulted in a lot of activity for this year’s harvest season, which began March 22 and ends May 31.
In March, the state legislature passed an emergency bill to criminalize and stiffen penalties for violations of harvesting laws. The legislature also passed a bill requiring elver dealers to file reports on a weekly rather than monthly basis.
The Maine Marine Patrol has been busy with egregious violations by unlicensed harvesters, including a New Hampshire man in the largest case of illegal possession of elvers in the history of the fishery – 41 pounds; and a Rockland man for illegal possession of 11 pounds worth $22,100.
Harvesters banded together to form the Maine Elver Fisherman Association (MEFA), so they would have a voice at the table as the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) decides whether eels should be listed as endangered, which could shut down both the eel and elver fisheries; and as the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) susses out new management measures based on its own finding that the stock is depleted.