Regulations on Eel Fry Catching Season
The number of eel fry caught in coastal waters around Taiwan has been
declining, and the reason for such a decline is still uncertain.
However, for the purpose of preserving the livelihood of fishermen,
sustaining traditional eel aquaculture and conserving eel resources,
the Fisheries Agency promulgated “Regulations on Eel Fry Catching
Season” which guides city and county governments to declare rivers in
their jurisdictions off-limits for catching adult eel. The goal of this
pronouncement is to allow some of the eel fry to migrate upstream and
grow in order to rebuild the eel stock.
Emphases of This Policy
- The gradual decline of eel fry is presumed to closely connected
with global climate change and massive catches of eel fry. Because
catching eel fry is one of traditional industries in coastal areas
Taiwan in the winter season and an important source of revenue on which
many fishermen rely for basic income, the Fisheries Agency has no
choice but use this regulation to balance the industry and sustainable
utilization of resources.
- Based on monthly statistics of eel fry catches from 2008 to 2012,
we can judge that the eel fry catching season begins from October to
the following April. To balance the livelihood of fishermen and allow
part of incoming eel fry to migrate upstream and mature in their
habitat, the Fisheries Agency invited delegates from the industry,
local government authorities, and the academia for consultation, the
said parties reached consensus on the regulation on catching eel fry.
The Fisheries Agency then promulgated “Regulations on Eel Fry Catching
Season” on September 9, 2013.
- The main points of “Regulations on Eel Fry Catching Season” are
- Catching eel fry by any method in the waters three nautical
miles from shore, intertidal zones, and estuaries from March 1 to
October 31 is forbidden. The following conditions are exceptions:
- Catching eel fry in the waters, intertidal zones, and
estuaries of Hualien County and Taitung County.
- With the approval from regulators in the Central Government
for academic research purposes.
- Fishermen who catch eel fry during the period when fry catching
is not forbidden must comply with the relevant regulations as
stipulated in the National Park Law, the Wildlife Conservation Act, the
Cultural Heritage Preservation Act , the Fisheries Act and other laws
that designate conservation zones and fishing off-limits.
- Those who are found to be in violation of the regulation in
point one will be fined at least NT$ 30,000 and with maximum of NT$
150,000 according to the regulations in paragraph 5 Article 65 of the
- The pronounced period during which fry catching is forbidden has
included March, April, and October. The total catch of eel fry in these
three months averages about 100,000 fish per year according to the
statistics. When left undisturbed, this population of eel fry can
migrate upstream to grow in their habitat, and help replenish the eel
stock enormously. Because the peak eel fry season could be influenced
by climate change and may change its movement pattern accordingly, the
Fisheries Agency will therefore review the eel fry season in the future
based on the implementation of this pronouncement and adjust the period
during which eel fry catching is forbidden and other relevant
regulations in a gradual manner.
- To allow the eel to mature and migrate to the ocean to spawn, the
Fisheries Agency has instructed city and county governments to declare
the midstream and downstream of at least one river in their
jurisdictions as off-limits for eel catching, meaning that catching eel
by any method during the whole year is forbidden. In particular, Yilan
County has declared that catching eel in the entire watershed of rivers
within the county is forbidden in order to protect habitat of eels and
- The aquaculture of eel and catching eel fry are important
industries in Taiwan. As the eel stock is being depleted by the day,
conservation of eel stock is becoming more and more urgent. The
promotion of regulations on the eel fry catching season and the
conservation of eel habitat is a joint effort by the industry, the
government, and the academia. This effort will help the sustainable use
of the eel stock and promote better management of this industry.