Weather, low prices hurt lucrative baby eel market

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Cold weather and resurgent foreign markets are combining to depress the catch and prices in Maine's lucrative baby eel harvest.

Baby eels, called elvers, are Maine's second most-valuable fishery after lobsters. But fishermen say elvers are fetching about $500 to $800 per pound, down from more than $1,800 last year.

The fishery has boomed in recent years, and a catch quota has been implemented. More than three weeks into the eight-week season, elver fishermen have caught just a quarter of their quota.

Fishermen and government regulators say the cold spring is keeping elvers out of Maine waters. Rebuilding European and Asian sources are also providing new competition.

The elvers are sold overseas as seed stock for aquaculture companies in Asia that raise them to maturity and sell them for food.