New controls are coming to Maine’s valuable baby eel fishery this season.

A state panel approved new requirements for the exportation of baby eels, called elvers, on Wednesday. The Maine Department of Marine Resources wants to add a requirement that baby eel exporters notify the Maine Marine Patrol 48 hours before preparing to pack and ship the eels. The officer will then witness the packing.

The new rule’s designed to deter illegal sales of the valuable fish. Elvers are almost always worth more than $1,000 per pound at docks. They’re then sold to Asian aquaculture companies so they can raised to maturity for use as food.

Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher is expected to sign off on the changes before the elver fishing season begins on March 22.

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