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Authorities confiscate about $500,000 worth of elvers at Toronto’s Pearson Airport – Canada News

$500,000 in gluttons

The Canadian Press – | History: 488153

A major seizure of elvers at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport that federal officials say were intended to be shipped overseas is estimated to be worth between $400,000 and $500,000.

The seizure of 109 kilograms of elvers was made on Wednesday by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canada Border Services Agency.

“Our message is very clear: do not travel to Nova Scotia to fish or export elvers illegally this year, law enforcement officers will be waiting for you,” Fisheries Minister Diane Lebouthlier said in a statement Friday.

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

Eels are worth about $5,000 per kilogram (more than lobsters, scallops or salmon), making them the most valuable fish by weight in Canada.

Elvers weigh only a few grams and are less than 10 centimeters long. The eels, sometimes called glass eels, are often flown to Asia, where they are raised to maturity and sold for food and used in unagi dishes at sushi restaurants.

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

In late April, Stanley King of Atlantic Elver Fishery said a series of recent arrests for illegal fishing is an early sign that the federal government has increased enforcement since it closed the eel fishery.

That month, the federal Department of Fisheries arrested five people from Maine for illegal fishing in Meteghan, a community in Digby County in Nova Scotia.

Department officials have “upped their game,” said King, who is among commercial fishermen who have criticized the federal government in recent years for what they said was a soft approach to poaching.

Elvers are caught at night in the coastal rivers of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Maine. They are harvested in spring when they return to the rivers from their spawning grounds in the ocean. This slippery fish can be caught with minimal equipment, often with a bucket and a fine funnel-shaped net called a fyke net or dip net.