It turns out there is a huge demand for elvers from
Maine. This results in two questions, why would
anyone want to buy fairy residents of Middle Earth, and why Maine.
Well first of all it turns out that elvers
are not the elfish inhabitants who pal around with hobbits. And they are very expensive.
, a state better known for its
lobsters, residents have recently been netting huge profits from a new aquatic
source: baby eels. Surging demand from MAINE Asia
pushed the price of elvers, which look rather like clear noodles, to as high as
$2,600 a pound ($5,700 a kilo) during the ten-week harvesting season last spring.
Okay, they are baby eels. But why do they cost so much?
Restrictions on exports of European elvers, and a shortage of them in Japan after last year’s tsunami, have stoked demand for the American variety, often sold to Chinese or South Korean buyers who rear and sell them as food.
Okay, all is clear now. Asians use the baby eels as a way to make big eels, which people in
Asia eat. So what’s
the problem. Well the usual
problem. When people see money to be
made exploiting a natural resource they exploit it to destruction.
The appetite for elvers worries conservationists. East-coast stocks have fallen to historic lows, and the species is considered depleted because of overfishing, habitat loss, parasites and other woes, according to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, an interstate agency that is developing new management techniques to help reduce eel deaths. The
Fish and Wildlife Service,
meanwhile, has been conducting a review to determine whether the American eel
should now be protected as an endangered species. That could end the elver
fishing in US Maine and . South Carolina
Now this is an easy problem to solve, with government regulations and co-operation from the industry, a model successfully used in the lobster business. But led by Conservatives Americans fight regulation, it interferes with the free enterprise things. So this could be the result.
Fish and Wildlife Service, meanwhile, has been conducting a review to determine
whether the American eel should now be protected as an endangered species. That
could end the elver fishing in US Maine and . South Carolina
That’s right, the end of a nice niche industry. But at least freedom will be preserved.