Indonesian Eels Nov27

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Indonesian Eels Under Threat

The Japanese love eating eels. But the market for this delicacy is facing a serious squeeze as the domestic eel has the status of an endangered species. A variety found in Southeast Asian waters is helping to ease this shortage. But the growing popularity of the Indonesian eel has led to overfishing. NHK WORLD’s Metalia reports.

Indonesian Eels

This company is processing Indonesian shortfin eel. Most of the eels from this factory are shipped to Japan. Indonesia’s eel exports have skyrocketed. This year, producers have shipped nearly 15 times the amount of grilled eel to Japan than they did in 2012.

It takes about a year for young eels, called “glass eels,” to fully develop. Hery now ships between half a ton to a ton of adult eels every month.

Back when he started his business, many of the young eels died. But through repeated trial and error, Hery learned the importance of changing the water every day and maintaining a constant water temperature.

Indonesian Eels

Hery is always looking for new sources of glass eels. On this day, he’s heading to a village about 120 kilometers from Jakarta.

It’s 11PM. People wade into the ocean holding nets. About 100 of them are here to catch glass eels. They include farmers, taxi drivers…people with no background in fishing.

A good catch can bring in more than 40 dollars. That’s more than double what the average fisherman in Indonesia earns in a day.

The people fish until early morning. Together, they catch nearly 3 kilograms of glass eels. Hery buys the entire catch, paying three times the price offered by his competitors.

The fish farming business continues to boom. But fishing for glass eels is unregulated.
Some of the more experienced fishermen are worried.
This man has been catching glass eels for 13 years. He says daily catches have shrunk to a tenth of what used to be.

People’s appetite for eel is likely to keep production in Indonesia growing. But the country’s leaders are under pressure to find ways to conserve this valuable resource.

Source: Metalia / NHK World

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Indonesian Eels Under Threat