Maine elvers quota cut by 2,000 pounds

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission voted Monday to reduce Maine’s 2015 allotment of American eel landings by more than 2,000 pounds, according to a state official.

The interstate commission’s eel management board, meeting in Mystic, Connecticut, set a statewide quota for next year of 9,688 pounds, according to Maine Department of Marine Resources spokesman Jeff Nichols.

Last year, the board set a limit of 11,749 pounds of eels in Maine, which is the only state on the East Coast that has a sizable fishery for elvers, which are young eels that swim from the Atlantic Ocean into freshwater rivers and lakes. Elvers represent the second most valuable commercial fishery in Maine after lobster, with elver fishermen statewide earning a total of $32.9 million in revenue for their elver landings in 2013.

The commission has sought to place tighter limits on Maine’s annual elver fishery since a 2012 stock assessment of the eels’ population determined that the species is depleted in American waters. Fishing for other life stages of the eels is permitted in Maine and other states but occurs at a much smaller scale.

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