Elver numbers



AUGUSTA — The 2015 Maine elver harvest season, which ended officially at noon on Sunday, May 31, netted Maine fishermen nearly $3 million in additional value over the 2014 season.

Preliminary data from the Maine Department of Marine Resources indicate that despite a decline from the previous season of 4,445 pounds landed, the overall value paid to Maine’s 920 active harvesters in 2015 was $11,389,864 compared to $8,474,302 in 2014.

Total pounds landed in 2015 were 5,242 compared to 9,688 in 2014. This year’s total quota, set by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), was equal to the total landings in 2014 and will remain in place through 2017. The ASMFC will reevaluate Maine’s quota next in 2018.

The per-pound average for elvers harvested in 2015 was $2,172 compared to $874 in 2014.

“This year’s harvest represents a success for Maine’s elver industry,” said Maine Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher. “The swipe card system, which we unveiled last season, again worked flawlessly and provided the department with real-time data on landings and value.

“We also implemented a dealer-to-dealer swipe card requirement and a new elver exporter license, both of which allowed us to more effectively account for elvers at all points in the chain of custody, which is critical for the effective management of this resource.”

Landings declined due to a number of variables which are outside the control of resource managers and regulators, said Keliher. “The cold spring depressed the migration of elvers. The spring also was extremely dry, and levels in Maine’s streams and rivers were low, so elvers were able to swim in the middle where they could not be caught because of restrictions on fishing the middle third of rivers and streams.

“Fortunately, though, the value of Maine’s elvers remained at historic high levels, which resulted in an additional $2.9 million in the pockets of Maine’s elver fishermen.”

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