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Eels, and the present state of the eel market

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I attended an all day meeting yesterday, and one of the guest speakers was Brad Chase, of the Ma Div of Marine Fisheries. His talk focused primarily on glass eels, elvers and the present state of market eels. I learned something very interesting.

Unfortuately, the glass eel market is thriving. Glass eels are fetching upwards of $2000/lb! Though allowed in Maine (with a permit), the extremely high price is forcing glass eel poachers in Ma, where they make later night raids on our rivers and herring runs.
But here's what I didn't know. In the past, glass eels were consumed as is, either alive or slightly cooked, as tradition in Asian cuisine. But, according to Mr. Chase, that is no longer the case.
The vast majority of the glass eels caught in this country are shipped live to Japan, China, and Taiwan. Once there, they are sent to eel farms, very similar to trout hatcheries, where they are raised to satisify in insatiable sushi and sashimi market. Glass eels fetching over $2000/lb, are worth 10 times that amount once they are grown out for sushi and sashimi.
He said the once traditional eastern European markets more of less leveled off and dried up years ago. Everything goes to Asian these days. So perhaps this may answer why eel skins are as rare as hens teeth these days?
post #2 of 7
Bob ....eels in our area are rare in general at least today.....I know you fished em back in the day and there are none to be had now. I can remember full pots in buttermilk back in the late seventies and early eighties. My buddy fished 40 pots for 20 pounds in 10 days of fishing a couple of years ago. That's a half a pound a pot in ten days!! Granted he used quahogs rather than horseshoe crabs but still..... I know there was glass eeling going on in falmouth and mashpee a few years ago the falmouth dnr found some hoop nets set in their little herring rivers........I have heard of guns being pulled over fishing spots on some of the Maine rivers.........
post #3 of 7
In the spring if i put a pot out with pogies in it i can get about 15 - 30 eels no problem with lots of congas. When the temp rises the eels leave the area they were in . I tried to put a pot out in the summer and i caught 2. Water temp plays a big role. Like i posted in the other thread there is no shortage on eel skins. U need to make them yourself. The ones that macos was getting were from nova scotia where large eels are a delicacy. He stop getting them because there was no money in it. Plus he got tired of people complaining about them. The eels we get now come from two locations Canada and Louisiana. Warm temps is what made the shortage this year.
post #4 of 7
bobby, the eels stay in their mud holes when it gets real warm. the family used to pot eels back in the day with dad running 40-60 pots in various locations throughout town. horseshoe crabs are the best bait as you've never seen a full eel pot like the ones baited with HS Crabs. So heavy you could barely pull them out of the water by hand. when the state cracked down on HS crabs, it put the kibosh on the small guy going out and grabbing baits at night during the spawning tides when they were easy to catch. we could fill the back of the truck at certain spots in wareham.

in the spring/summer they would be sold for bait. in the fall we would car them up and save them for this exact time of year. you had to make sure you threw some bait in that car every few days as the snakes would become cannibals if they didn't get some fresh meat. the snakes would go overseas to europe who would eat them as holiday treats. that was the big payoff for the eel fishery. In the times before that, guys would make extra cash sticking them through the ice. im sure there are still a few guys around who do it, if we ever get any ice anymore..

last spring, one of the local cops busted a group of guys seining for glass eels in a couple of the herring runs. i think the staked the place out and busted them, but with the way they prosecute evironmental laws, im sure they didn't get much more then a slap on the wrist.
post #5 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by bradW View Post

bobby, the eels stay in their mud holes when it gets real warm. the family used to pot eels back in the day with dad running 40-60 pots in various locations throughout town. horseshoe crabs are the best bait as you've never seen a full eel pot like the ones baited with HS Crabs. So heavy you could barely pull them out of the water by hand. when the state cracked down on HS crabs, it put the kibosh on the small guy going out and grabbing baits at night during the spawning tides when they were easy to catch. we could fill the back of the truck at certain spots in wareham.
in the spring/summer they would be sold for bait. in the fall we would car them up and save them for this exact time of year. you had to make sure you threw some bait in that car every few days as the snakes would become cannibals if they didn't get some fresh meat. the snakes would go overseas to europe who would eat them as holiday treats. that was the big payoff for the eel fishery. In the times before that, guys would make extra cash sticking them through the ice. im sure there are still a few guys around who do it, if we ever get any ice anymore..
last spring, one of the local cops busted a group of guys seining for glass eels in a couple of the herring runs. i think the staked the place out and busted them, but with the way they prosecute evironmental laws, im sure they didn't get much more then a slap on the wrist.

Ya know brad scotty H. tried pretty hard for a couple of years 4 or 5 years ago and did nada and he was a good an eeler as anyone in town. Makes me wonder if some one taking all the young ones before they had a chance to mature and head back out to sea and spawn.........
post #6 of 7
Last spring while stopping at a particular Herring run with my daughter, we noticed thousands of glass eels stuck in a puddle outside of the run. We started shoveling them back into the run with our hands.

Not knowning much about eels, but knowing that they spawn way out at sea, I never thought something so tiny would be what returned to the rivers and ponds here!

I wonder if I should contact the town to see if they should reinstate the fish warden program to watch over the eels like we used to watch over the herring?
post #7 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by pogie_boy View Post

Last spring while stopping at a particular Herring run with my daughter, we noticed thousands of glass eels stuck in a puddle outside of the run. We started shoveling them back into the run with our hands.
Not knowning much about eels, but knowing that they spawn way out at sea, I never thought something so tiny would be what returned to the rivers and ponds here!
I wonder if I should contact the town to see if they should reinstate the fish warden program to watch over the eels like we used to watch over the herring?

Great job on rescuing the little elvers....They are very much at risk at that size/age....The state does count the elvers coming in to some ponds. There are pics of the elver trap at parker's mill in wareham in this thread........................

http://www.stripersonline.com/t/842695/herring-looking-and-elvers
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