ELLSWORTH — The multimillion-dollar elver fishery closed on June 7, with the average price per pound climbing back up to where it was before the pandemic.
Dealers reported buying a total of 8,960 pounds out of the 9,620-pound state quota. The eels fetched $16,567,778 for an average price per pound of $1,849, according to preliminary data from the Department of Marine Resources. That price was well up from earlier in the season, when the average price was about $1,000 per pound.
The start of elver season was delayed last year because of the pandemic, but it went back to its normal start in late March for 2021.
The young eels migrate upriver from the sea and fishermen largely catch them in nets set along the rivers and brooks. This season, local fishermen reported slow starts, which were largely chalked up to water temperatures being too cold and flows running too fast.
Darrell Young, the co-director of the Maine Elver Fishermen’s Association, said it seemed like a slow year, especially locally.
“It just seemed like it was this area, Hancock County, that no one filled their quota,” he said. He came shy of his quota and ended up pulling his nets out early.
He attributed the off year to the lack of water in the brooks. He couldn’t complain too much, though, with prices better than last year.
“Hopefully we won’t have to deal with this next year,” he said. “I know we missed a lot of eels.”