Very BIG news today from Maine, the United States’ only significant elver fishery is closing tomorrow (May 24th) at 6 a.m.
I spoke with Jeff Nichols at the Maine Department of Marine Resources and he says it is too early to speculate on the future of this fishery. The commissioner, Patrick Keliher, will be evaluating what measures can be implemented in order to remain compliant with the the guidelines of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, but we don’t know yet what those measures might be.
What is clear however is that some harvesters and dealers were able to bypass the swipe card system, which according to Nichols was established in 2014 to allow Maine DMR to obtain accurate, timely information on the amount of elvers landed and sold in Maine and has been key in the state’s ability to comply with the overall quota requirement.
Instead, the poachers were using cash and carrying out their transactions off the books. The names are not being revealed yet because this is still part of an ongoing investigation, but I’m told we can expect to see specific charges written up soon.
Just to clear up a few Internet rumors that are already circulating:
The charges will be violations of state laws and the Maine Marine Patrol is the investigating agency. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has been made aware of this investigation, what they choose to do on a federal level is up to them.
The concern for regulators is whether or not the state of Maine has exceeded its statewide quota. This is not related to any individual’s quota or the tribal quotas.
The overage of 51.66 lbs by the Passamaquoddy Tribe is completely unrelated to this investigation.
This is not related to Bill Sheldon or any violations of the federal Lacey Act.