PORTLAND — Hundreds of eel fishermen are lining Maine rivers for the start of eel fishing season.

High prices are expected when the season kicks off Friday. For the next 10 weeks, fishermen will catch the tiny translucent eels, known as elvers, in nets as they swim up coastal rivers and streams.

The eels are shipped to Asia, where they are raised in ponds and sold when they reach market size.

Last year’s harvest was valued at $38 million, making it Maine’s second most-valuable fishery behind lobsters. Fishermen received $2,000 a pound on average for their catch.

Eel fishermen and dealers say they expect high prices again this season, but they won’t know for sure until the season gets under way.

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