April 18, 2017 — A little more than three weeks into the 10-week fishing season, Maine elver dealers have reported buying about 30 percent of the total annual 9,616-pound landings quota allocated to the state’s fishery.
As of 6 p.m. on Sunday, according to figures the Department of Marine Resources described as “extremely preliminary,” dealers had purchased a total of 2,828.908 pounds of elvers and reportedly paid harvesters a total of $4,057,115 — an average price of $1,434 per pound.
That price may be misleading, though. On Patriots Day morning, an elver dealer in Ellsworth was paying $1,150 per pound and advising the fishermen who sell to him to hold on to their eels for a few days in hopes the price would rise.
At this time last year, dealers in the Ellsworth area were offering harvesters $1,300 per pound, with the low price reportedly a reflection of a weak market in Asia.
For the past two seasons, Maine harvesters have landed fewer elvers than allowed under their quota: 5,259 pounds in 2015 and 9,400 pounds last year. In 2015, the average price of elvers was just under $2,172 per pound and, at times, the price has soared above $2,400 per pound.