Japan to impose regulations on eel farmers

The government plans to impose regulations on eel farmers as the Japanese eel was put on an international list last month of species at risk of extinction, government sources said Wednesday.

As eel farming in Japan relies mostly on catches of wild young eels whose population is declining, the government aims to prevent excessive production and catches in the world's biggest consumer of eels.

The government plans to work out a decree by the end of the year requiring eel farmers to file reports to help it determine actual conditions, such as the number of farmed eels, the sources said.

In the future, the government plans to implement a permit system for eel farmers, they said.

Two groups of domestic eel farmers -- the All Japan Eel Culture Association and the Union of Eel Farmers Corporation of Japan -- also plan to launch a joint organization to manage production and call on nonmembers to participate, according to the sources.

Around 420 eel farmers operate in Japan, according to the Fisheries Agency.

A new law enacted in June enabled the government to regulate inland fisheries where necessary for sustainable use of resources.

Also in June, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, or IUCN, included the Japanese eel on a red list of species at risk of extinction, citing overfishing, destruction of habitats and other reasons.

In 2013, the Japanese Environment Ministry designated the Japanese eel as a species at risk of extinction, but subsequent efforts to improve the situation have yet to bear fruit.