Baby eel lottery is a go in Maine, where elver fishing pays

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AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) – Maine is implementing a new lottery system for licenses to fish for baby eels, which are worth more than $1,000 per pound on the worldwide sushi market.

Maine and South Carolina are the only U.S. states with fisheries for baby eels, called elvers. Maine’s fishery is much larger, and the elvers have been especially valuable in recent years because foreign sources have dried up.

Industry members and lawmakers say the fishery needs a way to bring new people into the business because many elver fishermen are nearing retirement. The Legislature approved the lottery system last month.

Rep. Jeffrey Pierce, a Dresden Republican, says the law will likely be in effect by late October. The law states that a lottery could be held between Jan. 1 and Feb. 15 of 2018.

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