Arrests of Individuals in Baby Eel Raid

Prized Fish

According the the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC), a major seizure of baby eels at Toronto’s International Airport, destined for overseas, valued at $400,000 and $500,000. The seizure of 240 pounds of elvers was carried out on mid May by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canada Border Services Agency.

Federal officials have issued a clear warning against traveling to Nova Scotia to illegally fish or export elvers, stating that enforcement officers will be waiting for violators.

The baby eels are worth about $2,270 per pound—more than lobsters, scallops, or salmon—making them the most valuable fish by weight in Canada.

Elvers weigh just a few grams (approximately 0.1 ounces) and are less than 4 inches long. The baby eels, sometimes called glass eels, are typically flown to Asia where they’re raised to maturity and sold for food and used in unagi dishes at sushi restaurants.

Commercial fishers have observed that Department officials have significantly increased their enforcement efforts in recent years, moving away from what was previously seen as a soft approach to poaching.

Elvers are fished at night from coastal rivers in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Maine. They are harvested in the springtime as they return to the rivers from their ocean spawning areas. The slippery fish can be harvested using minimal equipment, often with a bucket and a fine, funnel-shaped net called a fyke net or a dip net.



Baby Elvers are worth more than lobsters, scallops, or salmon at market

Elvers are young, baby eels that are in the early stages of their lifecycle. They are typically very small, weighing only a few grams (approximately 0.1 ounces) and measuring less than 4 inches in length. Often referred to as glass eels due to their translucent bodies, elvers migrate from the ocean to coastal rivers where they can be harvested. Due to their high market value, especially in Asian markets where they are raised to maturity for food, elvers are the most valuable fish by weight in Canada. They are commonly used in dishes like unagi, a popular preparation of eel in sushi cuisine.