Elver season opens Sunday

ELLSWORTH — The Maine elver fishing season gets under way on Sunday, March 22, with the industry operating under some new rules.

This year, the total allowable catch (TAC) of elvers established by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is 9,688 pounds, an amount equal to last year’s landings. The TAC will be revisited before the start of the 2018 season.

Non-tribal harvesters will share a TAC of 7,566 pounds. Harvesters from the Passamaquoddy Tribe, the Penobscot Nation, the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians and Aroostook Band of Micmac Indians will share a TAC of 2,122 pounds.

A new law establishes a crew license that allows someone to assist a licensed harvester but not to remove elvers from the water themselves.

Last year, 237 out of 404 active harvesters licensed by the state met or exceeded their quota. Of the remaining 167 active harvesters, 122 finished the season within 2 pounds of their quota. Thirty-three harvesters did not report landings.

Last year, Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher delayed the start of the season until April 6 to allow for the implementation of a swipe card system for harvesters. There are no plans to delay the season’s opening this year, though icy water temperature in Maine’s rivers make it unlikely that any elvers will be on hand to oblige anxious fishermen. Licensed elver dealers will be required to record all their purchase transactions with DMR using magnetic swipe cards similar to the ones harvesters use to record their landings and sales. The new swipe cards must be used to record both purchases from fishermen and transactions between dealers.

Stephen Rappaport

Stephen Rappaport

Waterfront Editor at The Ellsworth American
Stephen Rappaport has lived in Maine for nearly 30 years. A lifelong sailor, he spends as much time as possible messing about in boats. [email protected]

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