Fines Increased For Eels and Elvers

HARWICH – eelsThe Senate on Wednesday unanimously passed legislation to increase the fines for the illegal catching of eels and elvers in the Commonwealth.

The prices for elvers, or small eels, are currently at some of their highest levels in history.

“This bill is important for protecting eel and elver populations, which have become threatened over the last few years,” Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) said. “By strengthening the punishment for violating these laws, we will be able to significantly cut down on poaching in local rivers and streams in the Commonwealth, reduce harmful environmental factors affecting the species, and also help legitimate fisheries who are abiding by the law.”

“Eels and elvers are a valuable part of our ecosystem and fisheries, so it is important that we ensure their population remains stable,” said Senator Daniel A. Wolf (D-Harwich). This legislation does exactly that by increasing the poaching fine to a level that reflects the value of the eel while providing a strong disincentive for their illegal taking.”

Currently in the General Laws, the commercial taking of eels is permitted by a licensed fisherman, but the commercial taking of eels or elvers less than four inches in length is not allowed.

The bill changes this length requirement to no less than nine inches.

Also under current law, violating any provision of this law results in punishment of up to $100 or by imprisonment for no more than 30 days. This bill expands upon this punishment, noting that the commercial taking of eels less than nine inches in length will result in a minimum fine of $10,000 or imprisonment for no less than 30 days, or both.

The bill will now be sent to the House for final passage.
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