Loire boasts 'ell of a year for elvers

27th November 2003, Comments 0 comments

PAIMBOEUF, France, Nov 27 (AFP) - A bumper harvest of baby eels is forecast in the river Loire, pleasing environmentalists who have struggled to clean the waters of the estuary and fishermen who charge around EUR 150 (USD 175) a kilo for the gastronomic delicacy.

PAIMBOEUF, France, Nov 27 (AFP) - A bumper harvest of baby eels is forecast
in the river Loire, pleasing environmentalists who have struggled to clean the
waters of the estuary and fishermen who charge around EUR 150 (USD 175)
a kilo for the gastronomic delicacy.

Louis Fontaine, a 35-year-old fisherman, said he had "never seen so many
elvers in the middle stretches of the Loire," which rises in France's
mountainous Massif Central and flows 1,012 kilometres (629 miles) to the
Atlantic coast.

Efforts to improve the quality of the water over the past decade have led
an increase, not only of elvers but also of lampreys, shad and salmon in the
Loire.

The season for elvers, tiny silver-coloured fish which are about 10
centimetres (two and a half inches) long, weigh less than a gramme
(one-thirtieth of an ounce) and look like little pieces of spaghetti but have
a far more delicate taste, opens on Monday.

Some 240 licensed fishermen will take to the river at night by boat between
then and April, expecting to earn three-quarters of their year's wages in the
season, together with large numbers of amateurs, wading through the shallower
waters.

In the winter and early spring of this year, 120 tonnes of elvers were
taken, but this year's catch is forecast to exceed that.

© AFP

                                                                Subject: French news

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