At the outset of the 2022 season, longtime elver fisherman Brad Parritt of Sullivan sets his fyke nets in the outer reaches of the Guzzle, a channel leading to West Bay, in Gouldsboro. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY LETITIA BALDWIN

Elvers fetch $2,154 per pound

ELLSWORTH — Maine’s 2022 elver catch of 9,058.748 pounds has nearly caught up to pre-pandemic landings of 9,650 pounds — with a reported value of $19,513,134 for the prized baby eels — so far this season. Since fishing kicked off March 22, many fishermen and fisherwomen were able to fill their quotas early and fyke nets have vanished from rivers and streams up and down the coast. The season ends June 7.

As of April 16, the Maine Department of Marine Resources reported the 2022 preliminary landings that compare to a total of 8,960.97 pounds in 2020. Also, this season the glass eels have fetched an average, per-pound price of $2,154 compared to $1,849 in 2021. With the 2020 season kicking off at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, elver prices sank to $525 per pound.

In the United States, Maine’s elver fishery ranks among the most valuable on a per-pound basis. The baby eels are highly sought after in Japan, China and other Asian markets, where they are grown to market size. The translucent elvers also are a luxurious menu item — like caviar and truffles — in high-end restaurants around the globe.

“Short and sweet” is how Darrell Young, co-director of the Maine Elver Fishermen’s Association, put it when asked about the 2022 season. “This is the quickest we have ever filled our quota.”

The Waltham fisherman has fished for elvers for 30 years. He and several other fishermen collectively caught 80 pounds in eight days. He attributed the big catch to various factors including the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s 2013 prohibition of harvesting of elvers at later stages of growth — when they are known as pigment, yellow and silver eels — along the Eastern Seaboard. The fact spring arrived early was another contributing factor.


Letitia Baldwin

Arts Editor at The Ellsworth American
In addition to editing the Arts & Leisure section, Letitia edits special sections including Out & About, Overview, Health Quarterly, Your Maine Home, House & Garden and Get Ready for Winter. She comes from Chicago, Ill, but has deep family ties to the Cranberry Isles. [email protected]

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