HAMAMATSU, Shizuoka -- A local group working to boost the population of natural eels released 215 of the adult fish into the sea on Nov. 17, hoping more eels will return after they spawn thousands of kilometers away.
The group, known as the "liaison council on the release of adult eels from Lake Hamana," consists of fishing industry workers. It released the 215 eels, weighing a combined 99.6 kilograms, into the Enshu Sea about 2.1 kilometers off the lake's Imagireguchi inlet.
Since fiscal 2013, the group has been releasing eels two to three times a year, with a total of 5,933 released to date. The eels released on Nov. 17 will swim toward the Mariana Trench some 2,200 km south of Japan to spawn, and it is hoped that the juvenile eels that hatch will return to Japanese coastal waters on the Kuroshio Current.
Senichiro Kamo, the 61-year-old head of the liaison council, commented, "We felt a sense of crisis about the marked decline in juvenile eels, and started efforts to return the adult fish to the sea in their natural state. We hope that they lay eggs in the Mariana Trench without incident and that the eels return to the sea close to Japan."
The council plans to release more eels in late November and early December, bringing the 2021 total to 750. It solicited funds for the release of the eels through an online crowdfunding drive, and about 370,000 yen (around $3,250) was raised this year.
(Japanese original by Koichi Fukuzawa, Hamamatsu Bureau)