News / Asia

Eels on Slippery Slope in East Asia

Eels Are on Slippery Slope in East Asiai
|| 0:00:00
X
Steve Herman
October 01, 2012 1:59 PM
Japan is poised to declare an eel emergency, anxiously waiting to see if the popular seafood delicacies soon are placed on a “red list” of threatened species. That move would not, though, restrict eel catches. The United States is considering pushing international restrictions, however, on several types of eel and that could affect the global eel trade. VOA's Steve Herman has more.
Japan is poised to declare an eel emergency, anxiously waiting to see if the popular seafood delicacies soon are placed on a “red list” of threatened species. That move would not, though, restrict eel catches. The United States is considering pushing international restrictions, however, on several types of eel and that could affect the global eel trade.

It's feeding time at the Gochang eel farm in South Korea. These fish are headed for kitchens across northeast Asia, where Japanese and South Koreans devour the vast majority of the global catch.

Eels, served fresh or processed, are rich in vitamins, calcium and protein. They are popular, especially in the warmer months, to combat fatigue and boost stamina.

The species preferred by Asian diners is Anguilla japonica - the Japanese eel. The eel’s larvae migrate from the Philippines Sea to rivers around China, Japan, and South Korea, where the species is overfished.

The owner of a chain of gourmet eel restaurants in Japan, Hiroshi Suzuki, said no substitute is as appetizing.

“The European or French varieties have too much fat so they repel the special seasoning sauce Japanese expect on freshwater eel. And the North American eels do not have enough fat so they turn out to be too crispy,” said Suzuki.
 
Aquaculture cannot replicate the life cycle of eels, which only spawn once in their lifetimes.

That is a challenge for aqua-farmers, such as Lee Jae-jung, a former nuclear power plant engineer, who has been wrestling with slippery eels for nearly 30 years and now processes 190,000 of them every year.
 
“Eels cannot be hatched artificially. Nearly all eels that are farmed come from the sea. These eels are hatched in the Philippines. We catch them when they come to the fresh water from the sea," said Jae-jung.
 
With the price for eel in restaurants and shops surging, one would think that the owners of fish farms, such as this one in South Korea, would be elated. But that is not the case. 
 
“When the price of eel increases, consumers tend to eat less of it because it is so costly. Thus we are affected by the slowdown in eel consumption. However, our operation is able to withstand the downturn better than most others,” said Jae-jung.
 
In the past year, high prices have forced an estimated one-third of the eel restaurants in South Korea and Japan to close.

Other restaurant owners, such as Suzuki, support restricting trade in the japonica variety to keep prices high.
 
“If the prices decrease then department stores and supermarkets will be in competition with us for the limited supply, and the eel restaurants will not be able to get an adequate quantity,” he said.
 
Some conservationists say even stricter measures are needed, such as banning all catches of adult eels and sharply limiting those of young eels. Otherwise they predict some of these eels, which have been around for tens of millions of years, will become extinct.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid