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Fisheries minister Norihiko Akagi said Tuesday the ministry aims to step up efforts to promote development of more reliable eel farming techniques in view of the European Union’s decision the day before to sharply restrict the European eel fry catch.

“We will step up our efforts to develop new artificial techniques to assist the growth of eel fry,” Akagi told a news conference after the day’s Cabinet meeting.

The EU on Monday endorsed a proposal for a 60 percent cut in the catch of European eel fry by 2013 in the face of a decline in the population of eels caused partly by growing exports to Japan by way of farms in China.

According to the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, eel fry resources have dropped to 1 percent to 2 percent of 1970s levels.

The overfishing occurred due to a lack of established technologies to artificially help turn eel roe into fry.

Still, the ministry managed to turn the roe into 100 young glass eels in what it claims to be the world’s first successful attempt of its kind in the year through March.

It has set a goal of boosting the survival rate of 100-day-old eel roe by 10 times to about 1 percent by fiscal 2008.

Asked about the latest EU move, Akagi said, “The EU restriction will begin to have an impact on the Japanese eel market in two to three years (when eel that are now fry will have fully grown).

“We will move up the schedule for our current technological development plan running through fiscal 2008,” he added.

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