Maine residents arrested for illegal eel harvesting

Apr 8, 2019

Four Maine residents were arrested for illegally harvesting glass eels at around 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 6.

A Massachusetts Environmental Police Officer encountered a car with four passengers in an area of Wareham known for the harvest of glass eels, and found that the group was in possession of undersized Glass Eels and the small mesh nets used for the harvesting.

With the help of Wareham Police, all four people were taken into custody for Marine Fisheries violations.

One person had crack cocaine and a crack pipe. In the car, officers located a .45 caliber hand gun and a magazine for that gun, but none of the people had a valid license to carry or firearms identification card for Massachusetts.

An Environmental Police K9 team searched the car and found heroin, hypodermic needles containing a brown liquid, and additional ammunition.

The four arrested people were transported to State Police Barracks in Bourne and charged with possession of undersized American eels, harvesting eels without a permit, possession of a fine mesh net in the vicinity of coastal waters, possession of ammunition without a valid license to carry or firearms identification card, possession of Class A drugs (heroin), possession of Class B drugs (crack cocaine), trespass, and trespass with a motor vehicle.

Glass eels, also called elvers or juvenile American eels, are very highly valued as food in siome parts of the world. The eels used to be harvested in Europe and Asia but overfishing led to a decline in the population, leading harvesters to turn to the American eel to meet demand.

Elvers are exported for aquaculture, where they are raised to adult size and sold for food.