AUGUSTA — Maine’s season for baby eel fishing is coming to a close with the lowest prices in a decade.

Baby eels are a lucrative resource in Maine, where fishermen harvest the elvers from rivers and streams and often sell them for more than $2,000 per pound. They’re highly prized by Asian aquaculture companies that use them to make food.

Fishermen are averaging $525 per pound this year. Last year’s price was almost $2,100 per pound. And the seasons almost over, as it’s scheduled to end on June 7 or on the day fishermen exhaust the annual quota. Less than one percent of the quota remained available on Monday.

Fishermen said weeks ago they were prepared for a lean year. The coronavirus outbreak has made it difficult to sell and ship the elvers to Asia, and that has helped depress prices.

The last time the price per pound was less than $800 was 2010, when it was about $185. Demand for Maine’s elvers skyrocketed in the following years because foreign sources dried up. Maine is the only state in the country with a significant elver fishery.

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