Maine’s baby eel fishing industry is wrapping up one of the most successful seasons in its history.

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Baby eels, also known as elvers. Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press

Maine is the only state in the country with a significant fishery for baby eels, which are also called elvers. They’re sold to Asian aquaculture companies that raise them to maturity for use as food.

Fishermen have just about tapped out the season’s quota of about 9,300 pounds of eels, state regulators said. The eels were worth nearly $20 million at the docks, with a per-pound price of $2,162, regulators said Monday.

The per-pound price was the third-highest in state history and the total value was at least the fifth highest, state records show.

The season also represented a rebound from 2020, when prices sank to $525 per pound due to disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Members of the industry have said the re-emergence of global trade has helped the industry grow in value. Last year’s totals were much improved from 2020.

The elvers are commonly used in sushi. Some return to the U.S. for use in Japanese restaurants.

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