After ensuring new protocols are in place to protect fishermen, dealers and communities from the spread of the coronavirus, the Maine Department of Marine Resources will open the elver season at 8 a.m. Monday, it said in a statement.

Under the authority established by Gov. Janet Mills’ March 15 civil emergency proclamation, licensed elver harvesters may fish for and sell the quota of another licensed harvester, it said. Dealers also have agreed to limit transactions significantly by only buying one pound or more of elvers.

The department delayed the start of the fishery’s $20 million-a-year season, scheduled for last Sunday, because of coronavirus concerns. Initially, it said the opening would be delayed by at least two weeks.

However, the state managed to put the new protocols in place sooner than expected, delaying the opening by just over a week.

“Portions of the elver fishery as traditionally practiced make it challenging to follow social distancing recommendations, including maintaining six feet from other people to reduce the spread of this disease,” Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher said in a statement Thursday. “Our objective is to reduce the population of harvesters congregating on the shores and at dealers’ shops. Key to achieving this objective will be to allow those who are the most vulnerable to remain at home and have another harvester catch the elvers for them.”

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