Japanese regulators to impose limits on new eel farms

JIJI

The Fisheries Agency has asked prefectural governments across the country to curb the number of new eel farmers in a bid to protect the Japanese eel, sources told Jiji Press on Tuesday.

In a directive issued by the agency’s director general early this month, it also called for preventing aquaculture facilities from expanding.

The agency also plans to exclude eel farming from a subsidy program, the sources said.

Most eels eaten in Japan are cultured using glass eels captured in the wild. The agency’s moves are designed to control excessive farming and consumption. Prefectural governments maintain a database on eel farmers.

According to the agency, there are some 430 eel farmers in Japan. But because there is no law regulating them, anyone can enter the business, an industry source said.

Based on a law enacted in June, the agency plans to introduce a permission system for eel farmers, the sources said.

The agency has been working on creating an international framework for regulating eel farming, aiming to reach an agreement with authorities from China, Taiwan and South Korea in a meeting set for September in Tokyo.

The agency plans to ask Japanese eel farmers and related companies to establish a private-sector industry organization that can work with similar institutions overseas for resource control.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature designated the Japanese eel as an endangered species in June.