By Akemi Kanda, Seiko Sadakuni
An international conservation group has begun discussions on whether the Japanese eel should be designated as an endangered species, which could further raise prices of the summer delicacy in Japan.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature studied the status of 19 eel species, including the Japanese eel (Anguilla japonica), at a working group session in Britain that ended July 5.
It is expected to decide within several months whether the Japanese eel should be included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
The Environment Ministry designated the Japanese eel as an endangered species in February after domestic catches fell 90 percent over the past five decades to 229 tons in 2011. Many fisheries officials said a similar conclusion is likely to be reached by the IUCN.
The IUCN red list is not legally binding, but the designation as an endangered species could lead to the Japanese eel being regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
An IUCN listing would increase the possibility that such regulations will be proposed at a meeting of CITES signatories in 2016. The Japanese eel would become more scarce and prices would further increase if its trade is regulated under CITES. More....