ST. GEORGE, Maine — Two local men were arrested early Wednesday in connection with illegal elver harvesting at Harrington Cove.
Marine patrol officers happened upon the clandestine operation for the coveted baby eels and found the alleged culprits hiding in the woods.
Mark R. Farquhar, 39, of Warren and Keith G. Main, 35, of Waldoboro were arrested and charged with harvesting elvers in a closed area, harvesting elvers during a closed time and fishing for elvers without a license.
Both were taken to the Knox County Jail in Rockland and held on $1,000 bail each.
The two men were caught at about 1:30 a.m. after officers Matthew Wyman and Brian Tolman spotted a five-gallon bucket and a lawn chair along the shore, according to an affidavit filed in Rockland District Court by Wyman.
The patrolmen noticed a fyke net used for catching elvers in the adjacent waters.
Next they heard footsteps. After a brief search, Wyman found Farquhar hiding in the woods, according to the affidavit.
The suspect confessed to fishing for elvers, the affidavit said, an activity that’s become extremely lucrative in Maine as Asia faces a shortage of these “glass eels,” which are cultivated for delicacies such as sushi.
Farquhar told officials he was unemployed and needed the money to pay his electricity bill, according to the court papers.
When questioned, Farquhar said Main was also fishing with him. Farquhar telephoned his friend and ask him to surrender.
A short time later, Tolman located Main hiding in the woods near Cline Road, according to the affidavit. Main was wearing hip boots.
Main was released Wednesday. Farquhar was unable to make bail and was held until he made an appearance Wednesday afternoon in Rockland District Court.
Farquhar pleaded guilty, was fined $4,250 and agreed to make payments of $250 a week starting May 17. He was then released.
Main told Tolman that he and Farquhar agreed that they would not turn each other in if one got caught.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Marine Patrol officers came across the alleged illegal elver harvesting operation Harvest Cove. The operation was in Harrington Cove.