Update to “The Glass Eel”

Update to “The Glass Eel”


Like everyone else in Maine, I’ve been distracted by the winter storms, Valentine’s Day, etc., so I missed this little bit of information:  On Tuesday (Feb 12, 2015), there was a hearing at the Department of Marine Resources on regulations around the harvest quota for the upcoming elver season. As I said in one of my earlier posts, the elver (baby eel) fishery in Maine is incredibly lucrative, always controversial, and sometimes even dangerous.

In order to try and protect the elver fishery, the Department of Marine Resources in Maine has implemented two types of regulation: a license system and a quota system. All elver fishermen have to be licensed by the state (poaching is a big problem), and the quota system means that the total allowable catch cannot exceed a certain amount.  For the 2015-2017 season, that quota is set at the amount of the 2014 harvest.  That represents a 13.6% cut from the quota from last year, even though it wouldn’t represent a drop in the landings (http:// http://www.ellsworthamerican.com/maine-news/waterfront/elver-fishermen-face-big-quota-cuts).  However,  the Commission was actually considering shutting down the elver fishery in Maine, so the fact that the quota equals the harvest from last year represents a boon for the industry (http:// http://www.ellsworthamerican.com/maine-news/waterfront/maine-elver-fishermen-see-quota-cut).

One question in my mind: why did half the licensed elver fishermen not fulfill their quota last year?  Economic theory would suggest that a permit to fish elvers is an economically valuable resource – so why were they not used to the fullest? Was it because it was a bad year for elvers market (the price per pound was down substantially from the 2013 season)? Or some other reason?

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