APEC eel management talks slated

Japan, Taiwan, China plan full discussions on possible catch curbs to ensure supplies remain

JIJI

Japan, China and Taiwan plan to kick off full-fledged discussions on international eel stock management this year.

Their unofficial talks, which began in September, will be shifted to discussions at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum to take up such matters as the plausibility of limiting eel catches, sources said.

The move is designed to ensure stable eel supplies by maintaining a balance between marine resource management and fisheries. The three economies will hold their third round of unofficial talks in May and exchange data on eel fishing and production, the sources said.

After confirming the course of the discussions, they will add international eel stock management to the agenda for APEC’s ocean and fisheries working group, which is to meet in Indonesia from late May to June. The three are hoping to lead discussions at the working group.

APEC will be the venue for the discussions as China regards Taiwan as a renegade province, according to a senior official of the Fisheries Agency. The use of the international forum “justifies official discussions involving China and Taiwan,” the senior official said.

The talks at APEC, which also includes the United States, are apparently studied since the U.S. proposed control on international trade in eel at a meeting last year of signatories to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or better known as the Washington Convention.

Even if the discussions result in agreements on an eel fishing ban period and catch limit, establishing an verification system, including a way to make China and Taiwan live up to the agreements, would be a challenge, according to the sources.

Prices of glass eels used in farming jumped from some ¥500,000 per kilogram in 2009 to ¥2.5 million in 2012 due to poor catches for three years on end.

The Fisheries Agency is calling on domestic fisheries groups to curb catches of glass eels as well as eels traveling down rivers to spawn in the sea.