The Japanese eel, a popular part of the Asian diet, has been placed on the list of species at risk of extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the Kyodo news agency reported Thursday.
The Swiss-based conservation group put the species under the second of its three risk categories, which means it faces “a very high risk of extinction in the wild”, the report said.
The IUCN said catches of the eel, which spawns in the sea but lives parts of its life in freshwater, plunged to 229 tons in 2011, compared with 1,920 tons in 1981. Catches of the juvenile eel have dropped more than 90 percent in the past 30 years, the group said.
The IUCN list is not legally binding, but it could pave the way for countries to consider trade controls under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as the Washington Convention, the news agency said.
As a result of the move, Japan is likely to feel greater international pressure to restrict eel fishing.
Tokyo has been coordinating conservation efforts with China, Taiwan and South Korea, and the countries plan to hold a meeting in September, the report said.
The IUCN cited overfishing, destruction of habitat and prevention of migration due to river construction projects as main reasons for the dramatic decline in the population of eels.
– Contact us at [email protected]