Fishermen will soon be setting fyke nets in the Union River and other Downeast streams with the hope of harvesting elvers that can fetch $2,000 per pound or more during the state’s 11-week elver fishing season. FILE PHOTO

Nine is the lucky number in elver license lottery

ELLSWORTH — The Department of Marine Resources has announced the names of the lucky winners of the lottery for the chance to apply for nine available licenses to fish for elvers during the upcoming season that begins March 22. More than 3,600 people took part in the lottery, likely drawn by last year’s average price of just under $2,100 per pound.

“Maine’s elver fishery provides significant opportunity for harvesters who last year earned over $20 million,” DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher said in a statement announcing the lottery results. “I’m pleased we can provide this opportunity for a new group of Mainers.”

Of the nine winners, six come from Hancock and Washington counties: Allen Leighton from Milbridge; Alice Lay from Perry; Michael Roeber from Harrington, Rodney Dame from Addison; Richard Brown from Lamoine; and Corey Pettegrow from Southwest Harbor. Other winners were Joey Peaslee from Jefferson; Casandra Colston from Biddeford; and Kevin Hunt from Harpswell. DMR has notified the lottery winners, who have 30 days to apply for a license.

The lottery was authorized by the Legislature in 2017 and was open to Maine residents who would be at least 15 years old by the start of the upcoming fishing season and who have not had their right to obtain an elver license suspended. When it established the lottery, the Legislature also capped the number of state-issued elver licenses at 425. Each of the state’s four federally recognized tribes may also issue elver licenses to their respective members.

The nine licenses available through this year’s lottery reflect the number of outstanding licenses that were not renewed in 2018 and 2019. The department last held a lottery for elver licenses in 2017 and awarded licenses to 11 Maine residents prior to the 2018 elver season.

The Maine elver fishery operates under an overall quota established by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission of 9,688 pounds, of which just over 2,000 pounds is allocated to the state’s tribal fisheries. The balance is allocated as individual quotas among state-licensed fishermen.

As was the case in 2018, each new license holder will receive an allocation of at least 4 pounds of quota, based on the individual quota associated with licenses that were not renewed. If last season’s average price carries over into this season, each harvester could earn more than $8,000 from the fishery. When they actually apply for their new licenses, each will each be allowed to choose either a dip net or a fyke net for harvesting.

Each lottery entrant was allowed to submit up to five applications at a cost of $35 each. DMR received 9,967 applications from 3,621 individual applicants.

From each application fee, $25 will be deposited into the DMR Eel and Elver Management Fund used to support research, management, administration and enforcement of Maine’s eel and elver fisheries. The remaining $10 of each application fee will be used to support administration of the lottery. The total revenue generated by the lottery was $348,845.

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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