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South Korea develops complete eel-raising technology

By Park Sae-jin Posted : June 22, 2016, 17:22 Updated : June 23, 2016, 08:15

Japonica eels [Courtesy of Lotte Mart]

A state research institute has claimed to have mastered complete eel-raising technologies for the second time in the world, paving the way for the resurrection of South Korea's  embattled freshwater eel farms.
Japanese freshwater eels (Anguilla japonica) are an important part of the food culture in Japan and South Korea, but the price is high and sometimes more expensive than beef because they are considered good for stamina. The summer-time price goes up to 50,000 won (42.9 US dollars) per kilogram.

For years, many South Korean eel restaurants and fish farms have been closed due to the insufficient supply of baby eels (glass eels) and high prices that have chased away customers. Now more than 95 percent of eels sold in South Korea are imported.

The Japanese eel population has declined drastically due to a combination of overfishing and habitat loss or changing water conditions in the ocean interfering with spawning and the transport of their leptocephali.

Previously, South Korean fish farms have used glass eels caught in the sea. But the National Fisheries Research and DevelopmentInstitute said Tuesday it has made a breakthrough in technology to transform the leptocephalus into a glass eel capable of being raised in a fish farm. This is the second time in the world to succeed in leptocephalus raising after Japan.

The Japanese eel is a species of anguillid eel found in Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, and Vietnam as well as the northern Philippines. It spawns in the sea but lives parts of its life in freshwater. Adult eels migrate thousands of kilometers to their spawning area in the distance sea in the Pacific Ocean.

After hatching, the larvae feed on marine snow, before they metamorphose into the glass eels which enter the estuaries and headwaters of rivers and travel upstream.

Aju News Lim Chang-won = cwlim34@ajunews.com


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