Officials seize around $500K worth of elvers from Toronto Pearson ...

25 days ago

Toronto

Federal officials say they've made what they describe as a major seizure of baby eels after finding 109 kilograms of elvers at Toronto's Pearson International Airport earlier this week.

Elvers - Figure 1
Photo CBC.ca
Seizure carried out by Department of Fisheries and Oceans, CBSA

The Canadian Press

· Posted: May 18, 2024 8:10 AM EDT | Last Updated: 2 hours ago

Baby eels, also known as elvers, swim in a tank after being caught in the Penobscot River on May 15, 2021, in Brewer, Maine. (Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press)

Federal officials say they've made what they describe as a major seizure of baby eels after finding 109 kilograms of elvers at Toronto's Pearson International Airport earlier this week.

The seizure was carried out on Wednesday by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canada Border Services Agency, who say the fish were slated to be shipped overseas.

Officials estimate the elvers seized are valued between $400,000 and $500,000.

Elvers - Figure 2
Photo CBC.ca

The federal government closed the lucrative elver fishery on March 11 after violence and intimidation plagued last year's fishing season in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

WATCH | Maine may have the blueprint for a successful elver fishery in Canada 

Baby eels, big money: How to get the elver fishery under control
The Canadian elver fishery is so out of control that the government shut it down over concerns of overfishing, organized crime and even death threats. CBC’s Kayla Hounsell goes to Maine to find out how it cleaned up its fishery and why it wants Canada to do the same.

Elvers are typically flown to Asia where they're raised to maturity and sold for food, as mature eels are used in unagi dishes at sushi restaurants.

The baby eels are worth about $5,000 per kilogram — more than lobsters, scallops or salmon — making them the most valuable fish by weight in Canada.

Federal data shows 149 people have been arrested for elver-related crimes, and nearly 208 kilograms of elvers have been seized so far this year.

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