Elvers, the baby eels

October 30, 2019, Las Tunas is the third province in the country that is inserted in the capture of a new species, along with Guantánamo and Holguín. Puerto Padre, a pioneer in the activity, reveals the novelty.

Puerto Padre, Las Tunas - A tiny fish is present in the Delicias River to become the main source of income for the fishing workers in Puerto Padre and its main exportable source.

Elver captureIt is the elver, a species highly valued in the European and Asian markets, in which Cuba commercializes it, for a value of six thousand 6,260 Euros per kilogram.

Without precedent in the municipality, the capture of the elver marks a significant event. Since its discovery in October, to date, the workers of the Puerto Padre Fishing Base Business Unit (UEB), contributed 31 thousand Euros with the delivery of 5.15 kg.

The Delicias River is the only one in the territory where its presence has been proved, according to the long-lived fishermen, who knew the specimen, but not its economic value.

Right where the fresh waters of the river and the salty waters of the sea meet, they find the elver, the result of the spawning of its progenitor, the eel, after undertaking a long journey to the Sargasso Sea, in the Bermuda Triangle, where they arrive to spawn and then die. Life begins its cycle again through these little fish that give continuity to their species.

The capture operation has five fishermen and three other workers, who have a camp and the necessary conditions to work, said Luis Sariol Pérez, head of the UEB.

At the Delicias dam, the fishermen use dip nets (species of hunt-butterflies) to catch elver, which is different from the traditional fishing gear (with the use of dragnets).

Both during the day and at night, the species requires a temperature of 16 degrees Celsius, as well as oxygenation in order to keep them alive until their final destination.

Every Thursday, the elvers are taken to the Spawning Reception Center in Gibara, Holguín, to be transported to Havana and sold through Cuba Caribe.

Elver captureThe economic results of this activity are beginning to benefit the fishing establishment of the Villa Azul, with the delivery of three marine motors and the improvement of the boats that today are deteriorated by the time of exploitation.

Fishing workers in the municipality value 2019 as a good year, as it fulfills its indicators and responds to the call of Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, to seek exportable items that favor our economy.

Today the elver, along with the blue runner capture and the oyster farm, is incorporated into the main lines of the Puerto Padre Fishing Unit.


Osmany Almaguer Velázquez, head of Fisheries Logistics, could not believe that the three kilograms of elver, a species he defines as sewing machine needles, were dead, according to workers at the Gibara center.

The heart was beating stronger than ever, Osmany confesses, he did not understand that something like that was happening, nor did he know how to explain to the collective that after so much effort the work had been in vain.

They told him that the elvers were dead and with great pain he only thought of returning and showing them to the workers as proof. He could not understand, if they had fulfilled the requirements, how did they perish?

Osmany Almaguer Velázquez, head of Fisheries LogisticsNevertheless, joy returned to his face when, seconds later, the head of the unit located in Holguín looked at them and laughing said to all of them: "They are not dead, throw more ice on them," and thus they showed signs of life, to the joy of all.

“What a relief!" remembered Osmany. "It is not easy after so much sacrifice to lose such valuable cargo.

For the fishermen, it is a very nice experience. We dedicated days and nights to achieve that amount, he explains.

They devote themselves to the task with much dedication, as it means leaving the family behind for several days and, in Osmany's case, spending little time with her three-year-old daughter, who is already asking about the elver.

However, their main purpose is to continue the capture, now with more experience to take on the new stage in the coming September.


Beyond the daily work, the staff of the Puerto Padre Fishing Unit took the step forward and expects in September superior results, from the expertise gained and the application of other marine arts.

Although they have three engines for the boats, which will facilitate the activity, they intend to raise the budget and thus continue the execution of the entity, deteriorated by the years.

The aspiration of the workers is in the wage increase and economic benefits, taking into account the high price of the elver in the international market, as the remuneration is only for the fishermen who are engaged in the catch.

Although today the results in this line provide the entity with a significant income, the collective has the purpose of consolidating new goals and receiving more resources.


Elvers, the baby eelsThe elver is a freshwater fish, weighs about one gram, is between six and eight centimeters long and three millimeters thick, and has a transparent and compact body in the shape of a snake.

All its larvae are female and with time, some of them change their sex. They are colorless, feed on plankton and are the only juvenile fish allowed by fishing laws. Its tonnage can be paid between three and five million dollars, according to Internet data.

The migration of these curious fish holds many mysteries for science, such as the method they use to orient themselves so precisely.

The Sargasso Sea is the only place on earth where eels come to spawn. Their capture depends on the weather conditions and lasts from September to April, meanwhile October and November are the best months.

It is a luxury dish in the gastronomy of several countries and its exclusivity makes it one of the most expensive; for example, in Spain, a dish can cost up to more than a thousand Euros. It is also consumed in the French cuisine of the regions of Nantes, La Rochelle and Bordeaux; and in Mexico, India, China and Japan.