Elver catch

ELLSWORTH — The Maine Department of Marine Resources reported total elver landings so far this season of 2,932 pounds as of April 14.

Under a quota set in the latest version of the Atlantic States Fisheries Management Commission’s fishery management plan for American eels, Maine fishermen are allowed to harvest 9,688 pounds of elvers – or glass eels – during a fishing season that extends from March 22 through June 7.

The state’s total annual quota is allocated among harvesters licensed by the DMR and harvesters licensed by each of Maine’s four recognized tribes. Total quota available to non-tribal harvesters is just over 7,566 pounds, and as of 5 p.m. April 14, landings totaled 2,079 pounds or 27 percent of the quota.

Last weekend, elver dealers Bill Sheldon and Larry Taylor were advertising a price of $1,450 per pound at their buying station on Water Street. When the season opened, the price of elvers was $1,400 per pound.

The relatively low price compared to previous years confirms preseason predictions that the market for elvers was likely to be soft. The economies of both Japan and Taiwan, the principal consumers of the smoked product known as kabayaki, which is made from eels raised primarily in China from elvers imported from around the world, continues to be weak. According to some reports, farmers are having trouble selling the eels they have grown at the same time that the world supply of elvers is strong.

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