AUGUSTA, Maine — A day after the Legislature passed bills enacting new elver fishing rules for 2014, state officials said Wednesday that the starting date for the season will be Sunday, April 6.
The Maine Department of Marine Resources had indicated Tuesday that the season likely would start after April 5 but had not given a specific date for opening day. The season will start at noon on April 6, DMR officials indicated late Wednesday in a press release.
The season normally starts on March 22 each year but it is being delayed because of the time needed to implement new measures that have been approved by legislators in the past week.
The Legislature voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to allow DMR to impose individual quotas on each fisherman, based upon his or her historical catch totals. On March 13, it approved a proposal to establish a “swipe” transaction card system that will track landings as each fishermen sells his or her catch to a licensed dealer.
The department has indicated that it will need about two weeks to determine each fisherman’s quota, and to issue swipe cards to each licensed fisherman.
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has told Maine officials the total statewide catch cannot exceed 11,749 pounds, which is about 35 percent lower than the 18,076-pound statewide catch total for 2013.
In order to prevent elvers from being overharvested, the department plans to withhold five percent from both non-tribal and tribal allocations to serve as a buffer, which leaves a total quota for the state of 11,161 pounds, DMR officials said Wednesday.
The season will end May 31, 2014, or prior to that date if the state’s overall quota is reached.
“The cold weather is expected to delay elver runs this season, so the late start will likely have little impact on landings,” said Colonel Joseph Fessenden, chief of the DMR’s Marine Patrol law enforcement division.