Tag Archives: elvers

As eels grow in value, US government clamps down on poaching

Law enforcement authorities have launched a crackdown on unlicensed eel fishermen and illicit sales along the East Coast.,, In Maine, more than 400 licensed fishermen make their living fishing for elvers in rivers such as the Penobscot in Brewer and the Passagassawakeag in Belfast every spring. They say law enforcement is vital to protecting the eels and the volatile industry. Randy Bushey, of Steuben, has been fishing for elvers since 1993. He said he saw his income balloon from as little as $5,000 per year in the 1990s to more than $350,000 in 2012. He said tighter quotas mean he’s earning less these days, and in the most recent season he made about $57,000. “I’ve seen the best, and I’ve seen the worst,” Steuben said. “I want to see it preserved. I want to see it straightened out.” click here to read the story 08:16

Elver eel lottery system for permits is a go in Maine

Maine is implementing a new lottery system for licenses to fish for baby eels, which are worth more than $1,000 per pound on the worldwide sushi market. Baby eels, called elvers, are a major fishery in Maine, where fishermen sell them to dealers so they can be sent to Asian aquaculture companies to be raised to maturity and used as food. But industry members and lawmakers have said the fishery needs a way to bring new people into the business because many elver fishermen are nearing retirement and there is no way to get a license. The Legislature approved a permit lottery system last month. click here to read the story 13:26

Inside the Multi-million-Dollar World of Eel Trafficking

The alleged kingpin of one of the biggest domestic wildlife smuggling operations ever to hit the East Coast is exactly where you’d expect to find him on a rainy evening in early May: firmly planted in a swivel chair at a big green metal desk inside his renovated Quonset hut on Foster Street, in Ellsworth, Maine. At this post Bill Sheldon waits day and night for fishermen to come and fill his bowl with writhing masses of baby eels. The 72-year-old fisherman wears glasses, a blue flannel shirt, jeans, duck boots, and a brown L.L. Bean baseball cap. His cell phone goes quack, quack, quack when it rings. The sign above his head reads, “Buying Glass Eels Here,” with the day’s market price: $1,250 per pound. (so much more about the fishery in this article than “trafficking”) click here to read the story 09:26

Maine’s latest fishing frenzy brings in $1,200 a pound — and it’s not lobster

It is just past midnight, rain clouds stalking a full moon, and Julie Keene is out on a muddy riverbank in thigh-high rubber boots and a camouflage jacket, a headlamp strapped over her hair. As she wrestles with an oversize fishing net, Keene tells how she went from rags to riches, and that’s not a story many fishermen tell. Just a few years ago, the sardine factory in her hometown of Lubec had closed, and Keene was scrounging for a living digging clams and gathering periwinkles from the beach. “We were so damn poor we were on food stamps,” Keene said.Then came what for Maine was the equivalent of a gold rush. It was slimy, squirmy baby eels — in such demand in Asian markets that they were suddenly more profitable than even the beloved Maine lobster. One memorable night in 2012 when the baby eel were running strong, Keene was paid $36,000 — in cash — for her catch Click here to read the story 10:17

How Maine came to play a central role in an international eel smuggling scheme

Years after officials launched an investigation into baby eel poaching on the East Coast, the first of several men to plead guilty to participating in the wildlife trafficking ring was sentenced last week in a federal courtroom in Maine. Michael Bryant, 40, a former Baileyville resident who now lives in West Yarmouth, Massachusetts, is one of more than a dozen men who the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service says poached thousands of pounds of the baby eels, also known as elvers or “glass” eels, from 2011 through 2014. Since 2011, elvers on average have fetched around $1,500 per pound for fishermen, and netted more than $4 million total for the 12 convicted poachers who have pleaded guilty to federal charges in South Carolina, Virginia and Maine. Maine found itself at the center of a criminal enterprise that illegally netted elvers along the Atlantic seaboard, where most states ban their harvesting, and then shipped the eels overseas to feed East Asia’s voracious seafood appetite, according to investigators. click here to read the story 14:43

Proposed Maine Elver Eel Lottery Would Keep Industry Viable

A proposal to create a new lottery system to allow people into Maine’s big-money baby eel fishery is the best way to keep the industry sustainable, some fishermen say. Baby eels are a prized resource in Maine, where they are fished from rivers and streams and sold to Asian aquaculture companies in countries such as China and South Korea. The baby eels, or elvers, can sell for more than $2,000 per pound. The eels eventually get raised to adulthood and turned into food, such as sushi, with some spanning the globe to come back to American restaurants. Right now, entry into the fishery is closed. A Maine trade group for elver fishermen is supporting a proposed state law that would allot new elver fishing permits via a lottery. The group’s president, Darrell Young, said members of the fishery are aging and the lottery system will let new people in. “We’re all getting older and eventually we’re going to pass away,” Young said. “As people die off or give up or whatever, there will be a drawing.” Read the story here 14:36

“Operation Broken Glass” – Three Men Plead Guilty for Illegally Harvesting and Selling American Eels

elversThree individuals pleaded guilty in federal district court in Charleston, South Carolina, to trafficking more than $740,000 worth of juvenile American eels aka “elvers” or “glass eels,” in violation of the Lacey Act.  Harry Wertan, Jr., Mark Weihe and Jay James each pleaded guilty to selling or transporting elvers in interstate commerce, which they had harvested illegally, or knew had been harvested illegally, in South Carolina. The pleas were the result of “Operation Broken Glass,” a multi-jurisdiction U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) investigation into the illegal trafficking of American eels.  To date, the investigation has resulted in guilty pleas for ten individuals whose combined conduct resulted in the illegal trafficking of more than $2.6 million worth of elvers. Operation Broken Glass was conducted by the USFWS and the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section in collaboration with 17 state and federal agency’s. Read the rest here 08:28

Is the Japanese eel industry on the slippery slope to extinction?

unagi-slider-870x489“Eel has been loved in Japan for millennia,” Murakami says. “It’s crucial that we continue this ancient Japanese food culture.” The eating of freshwater eel — or unagi — is a culinary romance that has lasted more than 5,000 years. Indeed, eel bones have been found in shell mounds dating back to the Jomon Period, which lasted from around 10,000 B.C. to 200 B.C.,, Consequently, the majority of eel that makes it onto dining tables nationwide has been imported from China and Taiwan since the 1990s. According to the 2015 fisheries ministry survey, eel imports now account for approximately 60 percent of the domestic eel supply, with a large quantity of the fish being processed into kabayaki in China and shipped to Japan in a ready-to-cook form. According to another survey released this month by the fisheries ministry, the market price of baby eel — also known as elvers or glass eels — is currently ¥1,820,000 ($17,142 usd) per kilogram. By contrast, the market price of baby eel was ¥160,000 per kilogram In 2003, less than 10 percent of the existing price. Interesting article, read the rest here 17:29

Maine Elver Harvesters Net Third Highest Overall Value in the History of the Fishery

elvers053015 016.JPGWith Maine’s 2016 elver season concluding yesterday at noon, the 982 harvesters who fished this season netted $13,388,040, which is the third highest value in the history of the fishery according to preliminary landings data from the Maine Department of Marine Resources. Maine DMR data indicates that the total was nearly $2 million more than was earned last season by the 920 active harvesters. While the average value this season was $1,435 per pound compared with $2,171 last season, it was the fourth highest on record. Preliminary landings data indicates that harvesters caught 9,330 pounds of the 9,688 total statewide quota compared with 5,259 pounds harvested last season. According to DMR data, 285 harvesters reached their individual quota in 2016 compared to 104 in 2015. Read the rest here 07:42

Maine: Despite chill, elver fishermen eager for start of season

elveropen032216 3.jpgAlong the banks of the Union River on Tuesday morning, between the boat launch on Water Street and the Leonard Lake dam, more than a dozen elver fishermen were staking out their spots, waiting for noon to come so they could set up their nets along the banks. More than 10 miles away, in a marsh at the edge of Hog Bay in Franklin, lifelong fisherman Babe Stanley had the banks of a tidal stream all to himself — except for robins darting about and a fox that ran up a nearby hillside. Stanley, 87, trekked through ankle-deep snow that morning from Route 200 to a bend in the creek where he usually sets his nets to await the start of Maine’s 2016 elver season. Read the article here 07:54

Elver fishermen unite as tribes agree to new rules

SMR_Feigenbaum-Simmons-Young-Atwood-1Last year, Maine fishermen harvested elvers worth more than $11.4 million from the state’s streams and rivers. That made the fishery for the tiny, translucent juvenile eels the fourth most valuable in the state, but it still wasn’t a good year. A cold, dry spring delayed the migration of elvers from the sea into the rivers where harvesters set their gear. As a result, Maine fishermen landed just 5,259 pounds of the tiny wrigglers, little more than half the 9,688-pound quota allocated the state by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. When the Maine Elver Fishermen Association gathered for its annual meeting Saturday morning, harvesters received some good news from Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher and former MEFA Executive Director Jeffrey Pierce. Read the article here 09:42

Asian demand, low supply set record price on Maine baby eels

Prices for tiny glass eels caught in river inlets along the Maine coast soared to record levels this year because a slow season resulted in reduced catch, fishermen and dealers say. The baby eels called elvers sold for $2,500 or more per pound at times this season due to low supply, fishermen and dealers say, beating the old record of $1,868.73 in 2012. This year’s average price, which the state has not yet calculated, seems sure to dwarf last year’s and possibly eclipse 2012, fishermen said. Read the rest here 12:50

Elver season opens Sunday in Maine, expected to start slow

elver eelDarrel Young, president of the Maine Elver Fishermen’s Association, said Friday that because of low temperatures in the early part of last spring, he did not catch his first elver until the end of April. “I don’t think I’m going to catch one until then this year, either,” Young said. “ Last year was really quiet.” Read the rest here 14:09

Stronger restrictions imposed on elvers, frustrating fishermen – Regulators also will keep a new quota system

swipe cardThe decision affects the livelihoods of the hundreds of people working in the fishery, which has recently been the second-most valuable fishery in the state, behind only lobsters. This spring, the catch had an estimated value of $8.4 million. Read the rest here 09:30

In Maine, a key day for elvers regulation

The panel deciding whether to set catch limits or even close the fishery will take comments from fishermen and state officials, and there could be tension. The hearings in Hallowell and Brewer will be held by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which has the authority to set catch limits and establish other rules governing East Coast fisheries from Maine to Florida. Read more here 07:55

Endangered delicacy: Japan eel on species red list

— The Japanese eel, a popular summertime delicacy that has become prohibitively expensive due to overfishing, has been put on the international conservation “red list” in a move that may speed up Japan’s push for industrial farming of the species. Read more here 11:47

Read more here: http://www.mercedsunstar.com/2014/06/12/3696168/endangered-delicacy-japan-eel.html?sp=/99/109#storylink=cpy

Maine elver eeling begins Sunday under strict quotas, monitoring

For the first time, fishermen eelers will be required to stay within individual catch quotas in response to rising concerns about the sustainability of one of only two elver fisheries in the U.S. Maine also is implementing an electronic swipe card system that will allow regulators to monitor how many eels are being caught daily and shut down individual fishermen – or the entire season – if limits are exceeded.  Read more here kennebecjournal  08:39

The debate over catch limits and quotas for elvers in Maine and other Atlantic states

The board of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will meet Wednesday in Virginia to decide whether to move ahead on its working group’s recommendations or incorporate details not included in the most recent management plan. At stake is a fishery that’s worth tens of millions of dollars a year in Maine alone, with baby eels often selling for $2,000 a pound or more. @kennebecjournal

Maine man summonsed for illegal possession of elvers

YORK – A Rockland man was summonsed on the Maine Turnpike earlier this week for illegal possession of $22,100 worth of elvers. Dale A. Boyington, 36, was pulled over by a Marine Patrol officers who were conducting surveillance at the York toll booth, according to a new release. continued