SCARBOROUGH, Maine — A Massachusetts man faces up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine after he was caught with an estimated $21,700 worth of allegedly poached elvers, according to the Maine Department of Marine Resources.
Joseph Starratt, 51, of Middleborough, Massachusetts, was arrested Friday and charged with possession of elvers, also known as baby or “glass” eels, without a license. The charge is a Class D misdemeanor crime, which is punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine of $2,000.
Marine Patrol officers, following up on a lead submitted through the Operation Game Thief tip line, located Starratt in Scarborough with 16.5 pounds of elvers and without any license to harvest them. Starratt was arrested and taken to Cumberland County Jail.
Each pound contains about 2,500 elvers, and the going rate on the day Starratt was arrested was $1,315 per pound, according to the Department of Marine Resources. As of Monday, the average price per pound offered to Maine fishermen this spring had fallen slightly to $1,309.
“Elvers are, pound for pound, by far the most valuable marine resource in Maine,” Greg Sirpis, Operation Game Thief Board chairman, said. “Maine has done a great job of managing this resource and minimizing illegal activity in the fishery. But this case shows that the big bucks associated with this fishery will still tempt some to violate the law.”
The tip line can be reached at maineogt.org or 1-800-253-7887.
DMR officials said Monday that, since Maine’s elver season began March 22, dealers in the state have reported buying nearly 8,000 pounds of elvers with a reported value of $10,461,475. The 2017 season is expected to end whenever the statewide harvest total reaches Maine’s 9,616-pound limit established by interstate fishing regulators.
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