|Maximum inflow volume||Actual inflow during tde 2015 fishing season||Actual inflow during tde 2016 fishing season|
Table 1. Maximum inflow of glass eels vs. actual inflow in Japan, China, Korea, and Taiwan
Sustainably using resources that are in decline requires proper management. Currently, Japanese eel resources are being managed in Japan, China, Taiwan, and Korea by setting restrictions on volume of juvenile eels (known as glass eels) for aquaculture use. What this means is that eel farmers can only bring a certain amount of glass eels into the ponds in which they are raised to be a certain size to be edible. The regulation itself is called the “culture pond inflow restriction.” Starting in 2015, the main areas that consume Japanese eels—Japan, China, Taiwan, and Korea—set an upper limit on their collective glass eel usage, and then assigned quota to each party. The introduction of shared culture pond inflow restrictions for Japanese eels is a major step towards proper resource management for the species.
That said, there is still a major problem with the current culture pond inflow restrictions. The collective upper limit set for all four parties was 78.8 tons, but the actual volume of glass eels brought in during the 2015 fishing season (which runs from late 2014 through mid-2015) was 37.8 tons. The figure for the 2016 fishing season was 40.4 tons—just 48.0 and 51.3 percent of the 78.8-ton limit, respectively. The limit is clearly excessive given the actual amount of glass eels being brought into these fisheries, and will likely have almost no effect when it comes to reducing consumption volume. In other words, our Japanese eel resources are still not being properly managed, despite the fact that declining populations have been recognized as a problem.