In this April 16, 2020, file photo, John Golding of Freeport looks inside his dip net while fishing for baby eels in Yarmouth. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

Maine’s baby eel fishermen are heading to the state’s rivers and streams in the hopes of a more profitable season this year.

Baby eels, called elvers, are one of the most valuable natural resources in Maine. They’re sold to Asian aquaculture companies for use as seedstock so they can be grown to maturity and used as food, such as sushi.

The season started Monday. Fishermen began last year’s season at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, which disrupted the worldwide economy. Prices plummeted from more than $2,000 per pound in 2019 to $525 per pound last year.

Fishermen were still able to catch almost all of the state’s quota for the eels. The quota is a little less than 10,000 pounds. The season ends in June or when the quota is tapped, whichever comes first.