Nova Scotia

Fisheries officers seize $250K worth of baby eels at Dartmouth facility

The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans says officers seized 60 kilograms of baby eels worth at least $250,000 last week in Dartmouth, N.S., that were destined for overseas markets.

It is currently illegal to fish for the lucrative tiny eels, known as elvers, after the federal government cancelled the spring season in March due rampant unauthorized fishing in previous years and threats of violence.

The latest large seizure, which the department said happened Friday but which it announced on social media Monday, is part of stepped up enforcement efforts that have led to dozens of arrests in recent months related to unauthorized fishing.

The value of elvers, which are fished at night with nets along Nova Scotia and New Brunswick rivers, has skyrocketed in recent years due to demand from Asia, where they are shipped live and then grown into adulthood for food.

The department said the elvers seized in Dartmouth were at a transport facility and were to be driven to Toronto where they would then be flown overseas. Two people were arrested at the scene. DFO did not say if they would be charged.

Photographs posted by the department show stacks of white boxes labelled “perishable,” including some in a van.

The Dartmouth investigation comes two weeks after another large seizure, this one at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. In that case, federal officials said 109 kilograms of elvers destined for shipment overseas were found, worth between $400,000 and $500,000.

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