Minister Lebouthillier’s decision regarding the elver fishery in 2024


March 11, 2024

Dartmouth, Nova Scotia - First and foremost, I would like to thank elver license holders, Indigenous communities and the public for the input that was shared with me on this year’s elver fishery. Our government is committed to the conservation of American eel, with sustainability and orderly management as the top priorities for the elver fishery.

As you know, over the last few years we have unfortunately seen a pattern of increasing and very serious challenges in the elver fishery, including significant quantities of elvers being fished illegally, jeopardizing the conservation of the species. The fishery has also become the focus of harassment, threats and violence between harvesters and toward fishery officers, with a number of confrontations and incidents of violence creating an immediate threat to the management of the fishery and public safety. This undermines international and domestic efforts to sustainably manage elver fisheries.

I have carefully considered all options on whether the existing circumstances would enable a sustainable and orderly elver fishery this year. In the light of all these considerations, it is clear that without significant changes, the risks to conservation of the species cannot be addressed and orderly management of the fishery cannot be restored.

That is why I have made the difficult decision to not issue elver licences and not open the Maritimes Region elver fishery in 2024. This will assist our fishery officers in addressing unauthorized harvesting. I know that the harvesting of elver, and of other species, is significant to the economic health of coastal communities. That said, responsible resource management and public safety must be paramount.

I want to be clear that should anyone choose to fish for elver they will be subject to enforcement action as per the Fisheries Act and the Maritime Provinces Fishery Regulations. Fishery officers are patrolling rivers, facilities and export points to deter and disrupt unauthorized elver harvest, sale and possession for export. Fishery officers will continue to arrest those caught harvesting elver and are working with other law enforcement agencies to combat the illegal harvest, sale and possession of elver for export, as well as threats to public safety and criminal activity. By not opening the fishery, our message is crystal clear: do not travel to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to engage in elver harvesting.

The Department continues its work to make regulatory and management changes necessary to provide a safe and sustainable elver fishery for all harvesters. The fishery will only re-open when these measures are fully implemented.

The re-opening of the elver fishery will only be possible with the cooperation of all those interested in this fishery, a combined focus on the conservation of this species, and a collective commitment to safe and orderly conduct.


Jeremy Collard
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Stay connected

Page details

Date modified: