May 26th, 2024

Nova Scotia elver fisher says early signs of improved enforcement of fishery

By The Canadian Press on April 25, 2024.

A Nova Scotia commercial licence holder says there are initial signs that enforcement against the illegal fishing of baby eels has improved this season. Baby eels, also known as elvers, swim in a tank after being caught in the Penobscot River, Saturday, May 15, 2021, in Brewer, Maine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Robert F. Bukaty

HALIFAX – A Nova Scotia commercial fisher says he sees early signs the federal government has increased its enforcement of illegal fishing for baby eels.

Stanley King, of Atlantic Elver Fishery, reacted today to recent news that the federal Fisheries Department arrested five people from Maine for illegal fishing in Digby County, N.S.

King says the department has “upped their game” this year, but he expects cases of unauthorized fishing to rise as the population of the tiny fish known as elvers increases with favourable tides and warmer waters.

He says it’s not unusual for fishers from Maine to come to the Maritimes because Canada has developed a reputation in the last couple of years for lax enforcement.

King says that while he believes the majority of the fishers from the U.S. state are Indigenous, he says there are certainly many who are not.

The Fisheries Department says that since March 8 it has arrested 95 people, seized 21 vehicles, 73.6 kilograms of elvers, 175 dip nets and 58 fyke nets.

The department closed the 2024 elver fishery on March 11 over safety and management concerns.

Elvers are usually sold live to aquaculture operations in China and Japan where they are grown for food. In 2022 prices reached as high as $5,000 per kilogram.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 25, 2024.

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