BAR HARBOR — The bonanza generated by elver fishing in Maine may be having a ripple effect in other states along the Eastern Seaboard where law enforcement officials say poaching appears to be on the rise.
Maine residents have recently been charged in New Jersey and Massachusetts with poaching the juvenile glass eels, which can fetch more than $2,000 a pound. Only Maine and South Carolina allow elver fishing, raising concerns that some of the eels sold to dealers in Maine were netted elsewhere illegally.
The law enforcement branch of the Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), which oversees the multi-state fishery, recently voiced its concerns in an internal memo.
“A significant amount of illegal harvest occurs outside the two states where harvest is currently allowed, and illegally harvested eels are being possessed and shipped via those two states,” the committee wrote in the Feb. 1 document.