Maine fishermen: Baby eel lottery would keep industry viable

Markets Associated Press

  • FILE - In this March 24, 2012, file photo, a man holds elvers, young, translucent eels, in Portland, Maine. A state trade group for elver fishermen is supporting a proposed state law in February 2017 that would allot new elver fishing permits via a lottery. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

    FILE - In this March 24, 2012, file photo, a man holds elvers, young, translucent eels, in Portland, Maine. A state trade group for elver fishermen is supporting a proposed state law in February 2017 that would allot new elver fishing permits via a ... lottery. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File) (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this March 2012, file photo, elver fishermen set up fyke nets on the Presumpscot River in Falmouth, Maine. State leaders are looking to institute an "elver lottery" for permits to harvest baby eels. The eels go for $2,000 a pound and are sold overseas to make sushi. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

    FILE - In this March 2012, file photo, elver fishermen set up fyke nets on the Presumpscot River in Falmouth, Maine. State leaders are looking to institute an "elver lottery" for permits to harvest baby eels. The eels go for $2,000 a pound and are ... sold overseas to make sushi. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File) (The Associated Press)

Some Maine fishermen say a proposal to create a new lottery system to allow people into the state's big-money baby eel fishery is the best way to keep the industry sustainable.

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Baby eels are a prized resource in Maine, where they are fished from rivers and streams and sold to Asian aquaculture companies. The baby eels, or elvers, can sell for more than $2,000 per pound.

The eels eventually get raised to adulthood and turned into food, such as sushi.

The state's trade group for elver fishermen is supporting a proposed state law that would allot new elver fishing permits via a lottery. The group's president says members of the fishery are aging and the lottery system will let new people in.

Right now, entry into the fishery is closed.