Regional management and cooperation in eel fisheries - a step towards President’s goals set forth in “The East China Sea Peace Initiative.”
The Fisheries Agency (hereafter referred to as “FA”) related that representatives from Taiwan, Japan, and China met in Nagasaki, Japan on the 6th of September to take part in the “International Meeting on the Maintaining and Management of Eel Resources.” The unanimous purpose is to establish collaboration under the APEC Cooperation Framework.
The aspects concerned are as follows:
(1) Exchange information about eel catch and raising in different areas and countries
(2) Exchange information about research on eel ecology and resources
(3) Improve management of eel resources (especially eel products’ traceability)
The three parties attending the meeting are the main countries that utilize this area’s eel resources. The representatives from each country’s FAs include Kuo Tsung-hai (郭宗海), Senior Technical Specialist (Taiwan), Masanori Miyahara (宮原正典), Deputy Director-general (Japan), and Liu Xiao-bing (劉小兵), Director of the Division of International Collaboration (China).
According to the FA, the catch of eel fry in Asia has recently decreased. In response to this problem, the three parties coordinated this meeting to show their concerted determination to conserve and restore eel resources. The consensus reached in the meeting is ground-breaking in the aspect of the conservation of eel resources. It conforms to not only Article 67 of the “United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)”, but also the 5th track of the “East China Sea Peace Initiative” proposed by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).
The FA further related that according to the statistics of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in 2006-2010 the annual yield of eel was approximately 255,000 tons (China accounted for 70% of the yield). Until now, eel larvae have to be caught at sea. The fry move eastward with the North Equatorial Current after hatching, enter the Kuroshio Current near the Philippines, and reach the waters around Taiwan, China, Korea, and Japan. Among these countries, Taiwan is the first to catch eel fry each year. In 2006- 2009, the annual eel fry catch in Asia was over 50 tons, but the amount started to decrease in the past three years, and this year (2012), the total eel fry catch dropped to 25.5 tons. In Taiwan, the price of eel fry was reported to be over NT$100 (per fish). As a result, local eel breeders are not raising as many eels due to cost concerns (only 700-800 kilograms of larvae in the past two years). The eel fisheries are facing a serious impact.
Last but not least, the FA emphasized that Taiwan has breeding eels for over 40 years. The sharp decrease in the number of eels bred and total yield is the consequence of insufficient fry catch. The FA will help eel breeders to ensure the development of eel fisheries and the comprehensive management of eel resources. Moreover, the authorities concerned will continue to cooperate with governments from other countries to exchange information and experiences based on the “East China Sea Peace Initiative.”