ï»؟ Poached eels: US strikes at illegal harvests as value grows
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Poached eels: US strikes at illegal harvests as value grows
Technology
Published in 8-8-2017
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BREWER, Maine (AP) Changes in the worldwide fisheries industry have turned live baby American eels into a commodity that can fetch more than $2,000 a pound at the dock, but the big demand and big prices have spawned a black market that wildlife officials say is jeopardizing the species. Elvers often are sold to Asian aquaculture companies to be raised to maturity and sold to the lucrative Japanese restaurant market, where they mainly are served grilled. Investigators also track catch records, which are required by states, to look for possible illegal fishing and selling along the supply chain. Maine's fishery for elvers is the biggest on the East Coast, making it the sole reliable source of the eels in the U.S. To prevent overfishing, fishermen are limited to catching them for only a few weeks every spring. Mature eels that avoid hazards including fishermen's nets, predatory fish and the turbines of hydroelectric plants will one day return to spawn in the Sargasso. The baby eels are tiny at the time of harvest, weighing only a few grams when they are scooped with dip-nets or trapped with larger nets that resemble small soccer goals. "While the big charismatic animals like bears, big cats and eagles tend to grab all the public attention, it's often the smaller, more obscure animals that are crucial to regional ecosystems and economies," Grace said. Going after scofflaw fishermen will help ensure the eels keep filling that commercial role, said U.S. Rep. Jeffrey Pierce, a Republican from Dresden who's adviser to the Maine Elver Fishermen's Association.
Reference: www.chron.com

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