Analysis on Global Eel Aquaculture Conditions  

Sun Zhaoqun , Wan Rong , Zhu Yugui , Talib Kalhoro Muhammad , Moshin Muhammad
College of Fisheries, Ocean University of China Qingdao, 266100, China
Author    Correspondence author
International Journal of Marine Science, 2015, Vol. 5, No. 17   doi: 10.5376/ijms.2015.05.0017
Received: 09 Jan., 2015    Accepted: 28 Feb., 2015    Published: 24 Mar., 2015
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Zhaoqun et al., 2015, Analysis on Global Eel Aquaculture Conditions, International Journal of Marine Science, Vol.5, No.17 (doi: 10.5376/ijms.2015.05.0017)


This paper analyzes some variation in the global eel industry and the main producing countries (regions) of eel production trends based on the 1950-2012 global eel production data. The results show that in 1950-2012, the overall global eel production rose rapidly. The world's major producing countries (regions) were variable during different periods, and the industry concentration of the global eel industry shows a very high feature. China ranks first in the global eel production since 1989 and plays a very important role in the global eel industry. About 80% of the global eel production is in China. The Changes of China's eel production has a significant effect to the global eel production. In recent years, due to the long-term high-density overfishing and environmental factors, the global eel fry recourses are becoming less and less, but it also suffered a serious "eel fry supply bottleneck". Currently, the best way to promote the development of eel aquaculture industry is improving its technical efficiency.

Eels; Production; Aquaculture; China

Eels are one of the purest water creatures in the world, there is a high nutritional and medicinal value in them such as nourishing, enhancing fitness and other effects, which are regarded as treasures in both ancient and modern at home and abroad (Chen Sixing,1990). Especially in Japan, people are particularly fond of eels. Japanese eel festival would be held annually in late July, everyone must eat eel to celebrate that day. However, as the growing of people's demand for eel and the production of fishing eel begin to can't meet people's needs gradually. In addition, eel's resources become less and less because of overfishing. To solve the contradiction between eel's resources recession and huge market demand, eel aquaculture industry turns up and become more and more popular in the world, and the share of eel aquaculture production in the global eel production is becoming larger and larger. So far, there are no such researches about eel production trends change at home and abroad. Therefore, this paper tries to 1950 - 2012 eel production data analysis, systems analysis eel movements in global production, aquaculture production and catches, and to explore the main reason behind it, on this basis, the proposed policy recommendations to period government departments or related businesses to provide a reference.

It should be noted that the eels in this paper refers to the eel "River eels". According to the International Standard Statistical Classification of Aquatic Animals and Plants (ISSCAAP), "River eels" was composed of the Japanese eel (Anguilla japonica), the European eel (Anguilla anguilla), the American eel (Anguilla rostrata), Short-finned eel (Anguilla australis), Indian short fin eel (Anguilla bicolor Pacifica) and other eel, etc., which are part of Actinopterygii, Anguilliformes, Anguillidae, Anguilla. At present, Japanese eel and European eel's production account for the most of eel's global production, and followed by the American eel and Short-finned eel's production, other eel's production which are classified as other categories' production due to the less production. What's more, in order to facilitate the writing this paper, China which appears below refers to mainland China, Taiwan which appears below refers to Taiwan Area.
1 Material and Methods
The data of the eel production were from the FishstatJ database of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and unless otherwise stated, the data time range is from 1950 to 2012 years (FAO, 2013). In order to explain the causes of the change in global eel industry, a lot of literature review related to eels was used. Since official statistics for Chinese eel production are not available, the statistical data used in this study were from the concerned institution and some various related publications.
2 Results and Discussion
In 2012, the global eel aquaculture production was a total of 241,285 Metric tons. The top six countries (regions) in eel aquaculture production was China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, the Netherlands and Denmark, and the aquaculture production was 212,464 Metric tons, 17,377 Metric tons, 4,259 Metric tons, 2,244 Metric tons, 1,800 Metric tons and 1,061 Metric tons, which were accounting for the global the proportion of eel aquaculture production was 88.06%, 7.20%, 1.77%, 0.93%, 0.75%, 0.44% (Table 1). The sum yield of the eel aquaculture production of the top six countries accounted for 99.14% in the global eel aquaculture production. The first four countries' total eel aquaculture production accounted for 97.96% in global eel aquaculture production (Figure 1). Both of them indicated that a high oligopoly and a high degree of concentration in global eel aquaculture production market.

Table 1 Exports of Frozen Fishery Products of Pakistan (2012) Quantity Metric tons

Figure 1 Eel aquaculture production of the world's top six countries in 2012 (Unit: t)

Figure 2 shows that the global eel aquaculture producing countries (regions) are constantly changed with time in the history. Generally, it can be divided into two stages: the first stage is from 1950 to 1989, the global eel aquaculture is mainly concentrated in Japan and Taiwan; the second stage is from 1989 to 2012, the global eel aquaculture is mainly concentrated in China. In the history of global eel aquaculture industry, the maximum eel aquaculture production in Japan, China and Taiwan were 39,704 Metric tons (1989), 214,698 Metric tons (2009) and 55,816 Metric tons (1990). The largest share of eel aquaculture production in total global for Japan, China and Taiwan were 94.74% (1965), 52.41% (1988) and 88.06% (2012).

Figure 2 Eel aquaculture production Changing tendencies of the world's top six countries (1950-2012). Quantity Metric tons

Japan is one of the earliest countries to report its eel aquaculture production (area) to FAO, eel aquaculture in Japan begins in 1879. It has been about more than 130 years of history. In 1950, the Japanese eel aquaculture production was 339 Metric tons, henceforth, eel aquaculture production rising steadily year by year. For a long time, Japan eel fry resources cannot meet the needs of eel aquaculture industry. In 1964, Japan began to import eel fry from China, Taiwan and Korea which increasing the amount of eel fry into the pool, and then the Japan’s eel aquaculture production rose more obviously in the subsequent period. In 1969, due to the outbreak of the "gill kidney disease", the eel aquaculture production showed a substantial decrease. Eel aquaculture production didn’t begin to rebound until 1973. In 1989, the Japan’s eel aquaculture production soared to 39,704 Metric tons, which is the highest production point in Japan’s eel aquaculture history. After 1989, due to the impact of rapid development of China's eel aquaculture industry, Japan’s eel aquaculture production showed a declined trendy and fell below 20,000 Metric tons in 2005. In order to protect the development of Japan’s eel aquaculture industry, Japan implemented a "positive list" system, which makes the eel aquaculture production increased more or less in the subsequent years [3]. In 2011
A Richter 9.0 earthquake occurred in Japan and triggered the nuclear leak. This caused huge losses to the eel aquaculture industry and resulted in the yield of farmed eel production in Japan from 22,006 Metric tons in 2012 to 17,377 Metric tons in 2011a decrease of about 4,629 Metric tons and a decrease of 21.04%.
China’s eel aquaculture industry began in about 1972, and originated from China's southern provinces such as Guangdong province and Fujian province. Due to the lack of breeding technology and the necessary funds, the eel aquaculture industry’s development was mainly through compensation trade and foreign cooperation at that time. However, at this stage, China’s eel aquaculture industry developed slowly due to all kinds of factors. The national production of farmed eels is only about 300 Metric tons in the end of 1984. China didn’t report the aquaculture eel production to FAO until 1989, and its production was about 60,000 Metric tons in this year which was accounting for 38.65% of global aquaculture production of eel. Since then, China’s eel aquaculture production and its share in the global eel aquaculture production showed an overall upward trend, and China’s eel aquaculture production has been ranked first in the world. In 2012, China’s eel aquaculture production soared to 212,464 Metric tons, accounting for 88.06% of global aquaculture production of eel, and reached the highest point in the history of China’s eel aquaculture industry. The rapid development of China’s eel aquaculture industry is mainly attributing to the following two reasons: One is the benefit from the support policy of China government. In 1985, the No.5 document of Central Committee of the Communist Party of China divided the aquatic products into three categories, the full liberalization of prices and the implementation of market regulation. China’s eel aquaculture industry entered a phase of adjusting development. In 1986, the State Council of People's Republic of China stressed that the eel seed should meet the needs of the domestic eel aquaculture first, and then the remaining part of the supply was used to export. The notification controlled the export of eel fry effectively, and China's domestic eel fry resources were basically used to eel aquaculture in China. The other one is benefited from the transfer of eel aquaculture technology and capital from Taiwan to China. China has abundant eel fry resources, adequate water resource and cheap labor resources and other convenience which resulting in lots of Taiwan eel aquaculture companies changed their aquaculture place from Taiwan to China to continue developing eel aquaculture industry gradually.
Japan has an enduring high consuming level for eel products, even in the economic downturn years. The annual consumption of Japanese con is maintained at about 18 000 t to 250 000 t, while seven or eight percent of these eel products are from China. Due to the international changes in market structure in the last couple years, the Chinese eel products become more and more active in the international market. Japanese experts in eel industry have been vaguely worried that China will reduce the supply of eel products. These concerns are mainly from the following aspects: First, China's exports objects of eel products have been expanded from the original traditional country such Japan, USA, Korea and other countries to the European Union, Russia, Australia and some emerging market countries, in other words, China’s exports markets have been changed from a single market to a diversified market. Second, China's domestic consumption of eel products is growing rapidly. It is necessary to adjust the export amount to meet the domestic demand of eel products. This has been shown in Chinese domestic consumption of small size live eel, and its increase in Chinese domestic consumption market direct lead to the declining in the Japanese market, and this tendency change also worried Japanese. Third, the Sino-Japanese dispute over the waters of strife has been significantly decreased the amount of Sino-Japanese trade, and it would influence the sensitive fish trade and fish products directly.
China’s eel aquaculture industry has a greater competitive advantage than Taiwan and Japan, and the eel aquaculture industry has shown a good momentum of development. However, China’s eel aquaculture industry also faces a lot of serious problems (Wu Chung Lee, 2003; Xu Zhong, 2011). Currently, the global eel aquaculture technology has been at a high level, especially in Japanese eel and the European eel aquaculture. Unfortunately, the eel artificial breeding technique is not yet a breakthrough. The eel aquaculture industry is still faced with the problem of scarcity of eel fry. There are rich eel resources near the China Yangtze Delta. Nevertheless, the eel fry resources have been become less and less because of overfishing since 1974. Although the Chinese government has issued relevant regulatory requirements, for example eel exports should meet the domestic aquaculture first as a precondition. But there are a lot of eel fry resources flows from China to abroad through smuggling every year which is driven by huge profits. This directly results in Chinese eel aquaculture industry is facing severe scarcity of eel fry, and thereby preventing further increase in Chinese eel production.
3 Conclusion
In order to solve these problems, the relevant government departments and organizations should further improve the relevant laws and regulations. Besides China government must also pay more attention to increase the productivity and efficiency of the eel aquaculture industry. This can be achieved mainly in two ways: First, increase research investment, strengthen cooperation and exchange among global research organizations, accelerate research about eel artificial breeding technique and explore eel aquaculture technology of other breed. Second, improve the technical efficiency of eel aquaculture industry such as optimizing the allocation of resources in eel aquaculture industry. However, technological progress is difficult to realize in a short term unless technology breakthrough, so improve the technical efficiency of eel aquaculture industry is the best way to promote the development of eel aquaculture industry currently.
Chen Sixing, 1990. The eel aquaculture conditions in the world. Journal of Fujian Fisheries, 1990 , 55-58
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Wu Chung, 2003.The competitiveness of the eel aquaculture in Taiwan, Japan, and China. Aquaculture,221 (2003) 115-124

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