The Japanese restaurant and food industries are worried that the price of the Japanese eel may climb further, following the decision by an international body to classify the fish as endangered, Asian Review reported.
The Japanese eel is a migratory fish found in Japan, China, South Korea and a wide expanse of East Asia. Because there are no farms that raise the fish from eggs, most Japanese eels sold in Japan are caught when young and raised until they are mature enough to eat.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature announced on June 12 that the Japanese eel was added to its Red List, recording it as a species nearing extinction.
The decision by the Swiss-based scientific organization does not carry any legal obligations. But the Red List is referenced by the secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which governs the Washington Convention and international trade and protection of endangered species.
Unless the Japanese eel population recovers, it may be added to the list of species protected under this convention. Such a move would lead to import-export controls, and higher prices.
The price of eels in Japan is certain to rise if the fish comes under convention controls, since the country imports most eels, including elvers for farming, as well as processed and cooked adult eels from China and Taiwan.