ROCKLAND, Maine — The Maine Marine Patrol charged a Rockland man with illegal possession of elvers this week after he reportedly was caught with 11 pounds of the baby eels, worth $22,100.
Dale A. Boyington, 36, was issued a summons for the offense on Tuesday, Jeff Nichols, spokesman for the Maine Department of Marine Resources, said Friday in a news release.
According to Nichols, the summons was issued by marine patrol Sgt. Robert Beal who, while conducting surveillance at the York toll booth with marine patrol Officers David Testaverde and Jeffrey Turcotte, saw Boyington traveling north on Interstate 95.
Information gathered during a marine patrol investigation led the officers to apprehend Boyington near the Kennebunk exit of Interstate 95 and cite him for possession of elvers without a Maine license.
“This is another example of Marine Patrol Officers doing a remarkable job of investigation,” said Gov. Paul LePage. “These law enforcement officials work hard but they also work smart to outwit those who endanger Maine’s precious natural resources by harvesting illegally.”
Boyington was traveling in a U-Haul van loaded with equipment for harvesting and transporting elvers, which was confiscated along with the elvers and will be held as evidence. Because the elvers were sold, the money also will be held pending the outcome of the case. In Maine, elvers fetch $2,000 a pound.
Boyington is scheduled to appear in Biddeford District Court on June 5.
Tuesday’s elver incident was the second of its kind this week. On Monday, the Maine Marine Patrol charged a New Hampshire man in connection with the largest case of illegal possession of elvers in the history of the fishery.
Marine patrol Sgt. Rene Cloutier and Officer John Luellen apprehended Phillip Parker, 41, in Newport after an investigation revealed that Parker intended to sell 41 pounds of elvers, potentially worth more than $80,000, without a Maine elver-harvesting license.
Illegal possession of elvers in Maine is classified as a civil crime with a fine of up to $2,000. However, a bill criminalizing elver fishery violations has passed in the Maine House of Representatives and Maine Senate with an emergency provision. LePage is expected to sign LD 632 in the coming days.
The bill requires an elver harvester to provide, upon request of a law enforcement officer or elver dealer, a government-issued identification with the harvester’s photograph and birth date.
The bill restricts the form of payment for the sale of elvers to a check. It also converts many elver fishing violations that now are civil violations to Class D crimes, with the potential for jail time, and requires courts to impose the maximum $2,000 fine for those Class D crimes.
“This new law will provide a greater deterrent to those who are motivated by the large sums of money that can be made in this fishery,” said Patrick Keliher, commissioner of the Maine Department of Marine Resources.
“When an unlicensed person can make tens of thousands of dollars in one night and only faces a fine that amounts to a fraction of that, the deterrent is not there,” Keliher said. “This new law will change that.”