People Are Stealing Eels From Europe And Sending Them To Japan
People are smuggling European eels into Asia for food — and the world is running out of eels to eat. Baby eels or glass eels are the main catch and they, as well as their slimy adult counterparts, are considered a delicacy in Asia. Japan eats 70% of the world’s supply, but they’re already eaten up almost all of their eels and process have skyrocketed. So they’re looking to Europe and the U.S to get more of them. Eels are eaten in sushi, in a dish called unagi kabayaki, and made into a sauce. They arrive to Asia as babies, and are grown in farms until they are adults.
EU laws have already banned imports and exports, but it’s still happening — at least 100 million baby eels have been trafficked from Europe to Asia this season. The North American and Asian eels are listed as endangered — and European eels are critically endangered. They also get killed during migration, often getting trapped in hydro-turbines. In America, eel can go for more than $2,000 a pound.
The U.S. fish and Wildlife service is also trying to stop the illegal trafficking of eels — it’s called operation broken glass. 15 people have already pleaded guilty for trafficking about $4 million worth of glass eels.