Glass Eel Poaching on Rise in Japan amid Surging Prices

Society Lifestyle

Kochi, Jan. 28 (Jiji Press)--Japan is struggling to crack down on glass eel poaching, which has been on the rise due to surging prices reflecting unprecedentedly poor catches.

In the western prefecture of Kochi, a major glass eel fishing area, police have discovered a facility used by poachers and arrested 11 men. It was rare for so many people to be held at one time for glass eel poaching. An expert said it was "just the tip of the iceberg" of the problem.

In the predawn drama on Dec. 8 last year, 25 local police officers stormed into a greenhouse in the city of Aki in Kochi, where men in wetsuits were taking a break. In the greenhouse were tubs containing massive amounts of swimming glass, or baby, eels that were poached at the mouth of the Aki River.

The authorities arrested 10 men aged between 19 and 36 at the scene for allegedly keeping 2.9 kilograms of poached glass eels at the greenhouse. The men, who are mainly farmers or are jobless, admitted to the charges of poaching and illegally keeping the glass eels. A man who is the owner of the greenhouse and is believed to have led the poaching was on the run, but was arrested at a later date.

A local fisher says that the arrested men are members of a major poaching ring active in the eastern part of the prefecture. Glass eels are known as "white diamonds" for their high prices.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press