American eels are held at the University of Maine Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research. Photo credit: Christopher Katalinas, National Sea Grant Office
Maine hosts a small but lucrative fishery for juvenile American eels, which are transported to Asian fish farms for culturing to the adult stage for the seafood market. Maine could realize even greater benefits if, instead of being exported, the eels could be grown and marketed in the U.S.
Maine Sea Grant provided program development funding to American Unagi LLC to experiment with American eel culture methods. Business owner Sara Rademaker successfully cultured adult American eels, shared the product with local chefs, and leveraged funds for additional research and development to culture American eels to market size.