Eel and Elver Progress Report
eels, fishing, Fyke nets, habitat, migration, monitoring, upstream, upstream migration, weir, protection, silver eel, Maine, telemetry
Maine Department of Marine Resources
In 1998, a total of 2,314 elver licenses were issued by the Department of Marine Resources (DMR), an increase of approximately 1000 licenses from the previous year. The amount of gear rose to a record 3,806 fyke nets (106% more than 1997) and 2,111 dip nets (65% more than 1997). The reported harvest in 1998 was 14,359 pounds. In response to this increased fishing pressure, emergency legislation was passed to limit entry, reduce gear, and reduce the harvesting period in the 1999 fishing season. An escapement study was attempted at Sherman Lake, but was unsuccessful due, in part, to poaching and lack of cooperation from harvesters. However, the study did show that escapement into freshwater occurred within a very narrow time period, and that the excluder panel reduced, but did not completely eliminate, bycatch. The upstream passageway/recruitment monitoring project was expanded in 1998, and showed that escapement into freshwater and upstream migration in riverine habitat occurs in short, intense pulses. Enforcement of the elver fishery continued to expand in 1998. The reported harvest of eels from the coastal pot fishery, the inland pot fishery, and the weir fishery was 20,671 pounds; however, reporting was low (10% of the pot fisherman and 41% of the weir sites). Yellow eels were sampled in the summer for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and silver eels in the fall for the University of Maine (UM). Weir fishermen under contract with DMR began a study of the fall run of silver eels, and will begin a study to determine whether silver eels also migrate in the spring. A telemetry study of silver eel migration was delayed until 1999 because of late arrival of equipment and construction at one of the study sites.