Individual fishing quotas set for elver season

Mar 26, 2014

The Maine Department of Marine Resources has established the individual fishing quotas for Maine’s 436 non-tribal elver harvesters. The individual quotas are based on the landings that harvesters reported to the department from 2011-2013.

Individual fishing quotas will be calculated by eliminating the lowest year of landings from the three years and determining the average of the remaining two years.

“The reason for removing the lowest year was to give all harvesters the benefit of the doubt by removing their lowest fishing year. In this way, personal situations such as medical issues or other circumstances outside a harvester’s control did not negatively impact them in the calculation,” said Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher in a news release.

Once the average of the two highest years has been calculated, a percentage (41.8 percent) will be deducted from license holder’s average landings to reduce the total allocation for non-tribal license holders to 8,710 pounds.

There will be no cap imposed for the individual quotas but a four pound minimum quota will be established for harvesters whose average is less than four pounds.

“By providing a minimum quota, we’re working to ensure that all licensed harvesters have an opportunity to utilize their license, even if they have been minimally active in recent years,” said Keliher.

The landings reports on which the individual quotas are based are those received by the department on or before Dec. 11. “Harvesters are required to report each month’s landings by the 10th of the following month, which meant final landings data for the 2013 elver season were due by June 10,” said Keliher. “However because landings information has not been used in this way in the past, we accepted all reports submitted through early December.”

To avoid drastic cuts being considered by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, Keliher crafted a management change for the 2014 season in which Maine’s total quota will be 11,749, which is a 35 percent reduction from the 2013 season. Five percent of the total quota will be withheld from the state’s allocation to ensure that the state does not exceed the overall quota.

Of the state’s overall quota, Maine’s four federally recognized tribes will receive 2,453 pounds after the 5 percent withholding. Each Tribe, Band or Nation will submit the individual allocations for their licensed harvesters to the department.

Non-tribal license holders will be allocated the remaining 9,168 pounds which, after the five percent withholding, will total 8,710 pounds.

“The department received considerable input from a diverse group of license holders regarding how the individual quota should be calculated, and carefully considered a wide range of options before making a final decision,” said Keliher.

The elver transaction card system will be implemented for the first time this season to monitor landings on a daily basis and to ensure the state meets this obligation.

“If the state fails to make the reduction in landings to which we have committed, the overage will impact next year’s overall quota,” said Keliher. “In addition, if we cannot demonstrate an ability to manage this fishery, it is possible that a future moratorium on elver fishing could result. For these reasons, the full compliance of all elver harvesters and dealers is of critical importance to everyone who has a stake in this fishery.”

For more information on the 2014 elver harvesting season, visit maine.gov/dmr/news/2014/2014ElverFAQ.htm.

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