BANGOR – Two baby-eel dealers are facing misdemeanor charges as Maine moves to increase oversight over the lucrative industry.

The Bangor Daily News reports that Department of Marine Resources spokesman Jeff Nichols says two Maine dealers are accused of making illegal cash purchases last spring of the eels, also known as elvers.

Both dealers face license suspensions along with misdemeanor charges for allegedly purchasing elvers without a required swipe card, which is part of an electronic monitoring system.

Nichols said the investigation into illegal sales is ongoing.

Fishery regulators have faced increased poaching and smuggling since the value of elvers jumped from an average price of $100 per pound a decade ago to over $2,300 per pound last year.

Maine’s holding public hearings on proposals to make it harder to conceal illegal cash transactions from inspectors.

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