PLEASANT POINT, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Even after a Sunday night elver fishing raid and a phone call from Governor LePage, Passamaquoddy Tribal leaders say they will continue to follow their own guidelines for elver fishing.
"It's about independence. It's about rights," said Chief Clayton Cleaves.
The tribe issued 575 elver licenses for the season, which is 375 more than the state allowed.
According to ChiefCleaves, the tribe has adopted its own conservation plan which limits the total catch limit, instead of licenses. He said the tribe will stop fishing at 3,600 pounds.
Members of the Joint Tribal Council said this plan is superior to the state's current plan, which puts a cap on licenses instead of pounds.
"Our [plan] truly balances the interest of tribal members today, with the interest of the resource and that of future generations," said Fred Moore, Fisheries spokesman for the tribe.
"If the state followed our rules, there would be more eels for everybody," said Moore.
The Commissioner of the Department of Marine Resources Patrick Keliher said the tribe is putting the entire fishery in danger by exceeding federal regulations for elver licenses.
He, and other fishermen and buyers in the elver industry, worry that the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission could penalize the state for the Passamaquoddy's actions.
Marine Patrol, State Police, and the Warden Service conducted a raid Sunday night, confiscating four nets between two elver fishing locations.
The next morning, Governor LePage called Chief Cleaves to ask if the tribe would be abiding by state law.
Chief Cleaves said he told the Governor no, and received an angry response.
The Chief said Gov. LePage threatened to withdraw support for any Passamaquoddy initiatve, naming the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, casino proposals, and even threatened to shut down the entire fishery.