Baby eels, or elvers, are not much larger than toothpicks and have become one of the hottest commodities on the fishing market.

Recently there has been a global shortage of baby eels and a high demand in Asian markets has sent the price of these strange-looking aquatic animals skyrocketing.

Prices on eel elvers can fluctuate drastically from year to year. According to BusinessWeek, elvers were selling for $891 per pound this time last year and with this year’s high prices, fishermen and officials are concerned about poaching.

Maine allows only about 400 fishermen to fish for these elvers for two months out of the year.

Currently, even with the short season, elvers comprise Maine’s fourth most-valuable fishery, surpassing even staples like scallops and shrimp.

After the eels are caught they shipped to Asia to and grown to adulthood on eel farms. As adults, the pound of elvers that Maine’s fishermen sell can be worth as much $30,000.

Watch the video below from the AP for more information on elver fishing in Maine.


Photo: USFWS Northeast Region

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