Maine Man Charged with Trafficking Poached Elvers

Juvenile American eels, known as elvers or glass eels, fetch a high price, but are only legally commercially fished in Maine and South Carolina. Photo: New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife

The American eel is an important and fascinating species. It is a top-order predator in freshwater streams and rivers, and an important food source for marine mammals, turtles, birds, and fish–and they are, arguably, the best bait for catching large striped bass. Every year, mature American eels undergo an amazing journey, leaving their homes in freshwater rivers and travelling to the Sargasso Sea where they will spawn and die. The juvenile eels, known as glass eels or elvers, undergo an equally amazing journey, arriving in freshwater rivers each spring.

These “glass eels” command outrageous prices, with a pound of glass eels fetching more than $2000 in recent years. The elvers are sold overseas to become seed stock for aquaculture operations that raise them for food. Rampant overfishing led to the closure of commercial elver fisheries in all but two states – Maine and South Carolina. Unfortunately, the high price on the heads of the juvenile eels attracts poachers and eel traffickers, like William Sheldon, a longtime commercial elver dealer, operating as Kennebec Glass Eels, who was charged with conspiracy and violating the federal Lacey Act.

Prosecutors say that from 2011 to 2014, while Sheldon was licensed in Maine and South Carolina to commercially harvest elvers, he violated the Lacey Act by buying or selling eels illegally poached in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia and North Carolina.

Each of the seven counts carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Read the full story from the Bangor Daily News.


  1. Donald s pollosco

    Please, hit this guy hard.
    I am not heartless. I forgive, I am compassionate. But when one person behaves so deliberately so as to consume excessive greed. My line between forgiveness and the full extent of the law becomes a force I believe my Lord will forgive my anger for wanting no mercy for this guy.

    • You don't know this man.. I do.. he is 70 years old and he isn't a bad person

      70 years old he don’t deserve to spend the rest of his life in prison when drug dealers are pedifiles are walking free

      • John k

        So we should wait until retirement age before we deliberately break the law due to selfish greed ?

    • Mike

      He’s still buying and fishing this year. They won’t do nothing till next year.

  2. Fishy McFishface

    Quick let’s slap his wrist and get this story out of the news. Meanwhile let’s talk about Trump taxes and Kim K getting fondled abroad.


  3. Greg W

    To OTW,
    -I have left similar comments attached to OTW articles reporting poaching before and I will continue to do so in the future.
    -Thank you. Please continue to shine a spot light on poachers and poaching.

    • Bobby bucktails

      Really?? You guys think this guy deserves all this meanwhile there are actual criminals out there… give him a big fine and move on. It’s eels

      • Greg W

        Deserves what?? The article dose not tell us if he has been sentenced or if he has had his day in court. I only think that poaching hurts every one and I’m glad OTW pays attention.

      • Raf

        Poaching is an actual crime, hence the 250,000 fine and jail time. The man is very clearly a criminal.

  4. Paul

    I don’t care it if someone is 19 or 90, they should pay a large price for breaking the law. I also don’t think we should live down to the lowest level of society. If this man is guilty he was driven by the same greed as most criminals. Guilty people should be prosecuted.

    • John k

      I agree if anything this fully grown man should be full of wisdom not greed . Slam him hard


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