Baby Elvers Rocket Back Up in Value in Maine

By Patrick Whittle / AP News.

Tiny baby eels are worth big bucks again in Maine.

The state is home to the U.S.’s only significant fishery for the baby eels, which are called elvers, and it’s taking place right now. Prices tanked last year due to disruption to the worldwide economy caused by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

This year, the fishery is experiencing a return to normalcy. The tiny, wriggling fish are worth $1,634 per pound to fishermen, the Maine Department of Marine Resources reported on Monday.

The elvers are worth so much because of the crucial role they play in Asian aquaculture. They’ve been worth between $1,300 and $2,400 per pound every year since 2015, except last year, when they were worth $525.

The elver business has benefited from improved health in international trading at large, said Mitchell Feigenbaum, an elver dealer.

“There’s confidence in the market in all commodities right now,” Feigenbaum said “There’s a crazy boom in real estate, a crazy boom in the stock market, a crazy boom in the eel market.”

The elver fishing season takes place in rivers and streams every spring in Maine. The eels are sold to Asian aquaculture companies that use them as seed stock so they can be raised to maturity and used as food.