The price of baby eels in Maine is soaring to record highs at the start of a season in which buyers expect to pay more for the valuable fish.

Baby eels, called elvers, are an important part of the worldwide Japanese food trade. Maine fishermen harvest them from rivers and streams so they can be sold as seed stock to Asian aquaculture companies.

The Maine Department of Marine Resources says on Friday that the average price per pound to fishermen was $2,608. The most elvers have ever sold for in a full season was $2,172, in 2015.

Maine’s elver industry is poised for high prices because of a poor harvest in Asia. The season opened March 22 and fishermen had about 95 percent of their 9,688 pound quota remaining on Wednesday night.