ELLSWORTH — For the first time in more than four years, a few new Maine residents will get a chance to participate in the elver fishery.
On Wednesday, the Department of Marine Resources will open a lottery for at least seven new licenses to be issued for the 2018 elver fishery. The season begins on March 22.
During its session that ended earlier this year, the Legislature directed DMR to establish the lottery. It is open to Maine residents at least 15 years old by the start of the 2018 season and who have not had their right to obtain an elver license suspended. The department last held a lottery for elver licenses in 2013.
The cap on licenses was set at 425, seven more than are currently eligible for renewal in 2018. If additional licenses are not renewed by the end of the year, that many more licenses will be available through the lottery.
Each new license holder will be allotted a minimum of 4 pounds of the state’s aggregate elver quota. Based on the average price for the 2017 season that ended in June, that would be worth some $6,000.
“Maine’s elver fishery is by far the most valuable on a per-pound basis,” DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher said in a statement introducing the lottery. “We’re pleased to be able to provide new opportunity for commercial fishing in Maine, or perhaps a chance for an existing fisherman to diversify into another fishery.”
Hopeful harvesters can enter the lottery online at maine.gov/elverlottery. DMR will not accept lottery applications by mail, but applicants may come to the DMR offices in Augusta to apply in person.
The online lottery application period will begin at noon on Wednesday, Nov. 15, and ends at 5 p.m. on Jan. 15, 2018. DMR offices will be closed that day for the Martin Luther King Day holiday, so paper applications must be submitted by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 12.
Each lottery participant may submit up to five applications for a fee of $35 each, plus a $2 per application processing fee for online applications. Of the application fee, $25 will be deposited in the Eel and Elver Management Fund, used to research and manage Maine’s eel and elver resources, enforce laws related to eels and elvers and to cover the costs associated with determining eligibility for elver fishing licenses. The $10 balance will fund DMR’s costs administering the lottery.