The Maine Department of Marine Resources May 23 announced that it will be shutting down the elver fishery two weeks early, May 24 at 6 a.m. The closure, done through emergency rulemaking, is being implemented because of illegal sales which department officials say jeopardize their ability to manage the fishery.

An investigation by the Maine Marine Patrol revealed that some Maine elver dealers were paying a cash amount that was substantially less than the per-pound price for elvers that were harvested and accounted for through the state’s swipe card system.

The investigation is ongoing and charges will be filed against dealers and harvesters who bought and sold elvers without using the state’s swipe card system.

The swipe card system records the weight and value of each sale, allowing the state to ensure that harvesting does not exceed individual and overall state quotas.

The state’s overall quota is set by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, and individual quotas, which add up to the overall quota, are established by the state.

The value and weight of the illegally harvested and sold elvers were not recorded with the swipe card system and not accounted for in the department’s quota management system.

The swipe card system was established in 2014 to allow DMR to obtain accurate, timely information on the amount of elvers landed and sold in Maine and has been key in the state’s ability to comply with the overall quota requirement.

As of May 22, 9,090.629 pounds of the state’s 9.688-million-pound quota had been sold legally, using the swipe card system.