An interesting look contained in the seedy black marketplace for glass eels | Boing Boing

A fascinating look inside the seedy black market for glass eels | Boing Boing

Eels are having a sort-of renaissance proper now (to not be confused with the time when eels were used as a currency in England, which was extra medieval than renaissance). Now The Counter has a grossly fascinating article about American Unagi, a Maine-based firm that is struggling to ascertain an above-the-board strategy to the typically-crime-laden worldwide eel market.

It is as bizarre and superior because it sounds (for those who, like me, are captivated by seemingly-incongruous true crime tales). Here is a, erm, style:

It is onerous for aquaculturist Sara Rademaker to pin down the exact second she fell in love with eels. 

It might have been when a fisherman first gifted her a handful of squirming child eels—additionally referred to as glass eels or elvers—or the hours she spent with them, elevating them to maturity in an enormous tank in her basement. Or it might need been when she killed them, cooked them in a borrowed smoker, and took a chunk. 

“After I had that eel, I used to be like, ‘I’ve to develop this fish,'” Rademaker mentioned. “Individuals get obsessive about eels. They wish to work with them, after which it simply, like, engulfs them.”

Six years after that first chunk, Rademaker stared down right into a tank in her eel enterprise’ headquarters in rural Maine, watching sinuous, footlong eels weave figure-eights underneath the floor. The eels’ slim our bodies tumbled collectively in a blur of inexperienced backs and stormcloud-gray bellies. Once they had been netted as glass eels in 2018—legally, she stresses—they had been price greater than $2,400 per pound. 


In lots of elements of the world, eel populations are presently endangered, decimated partially by overfishing, air pollution, and the damming of rivers the place they’ve traditionally lived. In opposition to this backdrop, Rademaker is preventing to carve out a clear, sustainable sliver of a crime-ridden world eel aquaculture market that, as of 2017, was price billions of {dollars}. By elevating solely legally caught elvers to maturity, Rademaker is betting that transparency and traceability will win market share—and all the higher if she casts gentle on this deeply secretive and infrequently infuriatingly advanced trade.

I’ve by no means thought that arduous about eels, concerning the fish commerce generally, or the regulatory challenges that such a system may face. However rattling, it is some wild stuff!

Slimy, smuggled, and worth top dollar: Can one Maine entrepreneur break into the crime-ridden global market for eel? [Karen Pinchin / The Counter]

Picture: Sara Goldsmith / Flickr (CC-BY-SA 2.0)

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