Episode #4: The Business of Elvers
Every spring, fishermen in Maine put out nets to catch baby eels – also known as elvers – as they make their way up streams from the ocean. They don’t look like much, but the 2-inch-long eels are worth up to $2,500 per pound, making them about 500 times more valuable by weight than lobster. That’s because aquaculture operations in Asia will raise the wild-caught eels to full size, then sell them for their meat. And while populations in Europe and Asia have collapsed, Maine and South Carolina are the only states that allow fishermen to catch the baby eels. The result? Huge profits for the few fishermen who have permits to catch them. Darrell Young, co-director and founder of the Maine Elver Fishermen’s Association, explains the business and takes us to check his nets outside Ellsworth, Maine.