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Eel fishing group says feds need to curb illegal elver fishing

By Kevin Northup Feb 14, 2024 | 9:01 AM

An eel fishing group says the elver fishery needs to open this season.

Federal fisheries minister Diane Lebouthillier says they’re consulting with the industry before making a decision on the lucrative fishery for 2024.

Poaching and violence have plagued the baby eel fishery for several years.

It led to a 45-day closure of the fishery last April.

In a statement following a House of Commons Standing Committee meeting, the Canadian Committee for a Sustainable Eel Fishery says if the minister chooses to close the fishery, she is choosing to support transnational organized crime.

They say the minister should support honest, hardworking Canadians who have legally fished elvers for over 30 years.

The group supports a delay in opening the fishery, and the arrest of illegal harvesters who don’t follow the closure.

DFO says they’re committed to a sustainable, orderly and safe fishery that respects harvesters and Indigenous rights.

The department says they’ve been working on regulations to create separate licenses for the possession and export of elvers, but they won’t be ready in time for this year.