Eel Culture

Culture of Eels
Fresh water eels are consumed by the hundreds of thousands of tons in Asia. In Southeast Asia, the availability of glass eels (baby eels) to support consumer demand is limited and, although a number of species are plentiful, they are currently not being harvested in commercial quantities. Applied research has enabled us to identify the best eel species for culturing, plus the support technologies for sorting, artificial feeds, etc. to successfully culture indigenous eel species.

Angulas is a Spanish delicacy comprised of baby eels cooked in olive oil and herbs. The delicacy is expensive in Europe and soon also subject to harvesting constraints because of environmental concerns. Poseidon has developed the ability to culture Pacific eels to the correct size needed to meet the demands of this growing specialty gourmet industry.
The consumption of freshwater eels, primarily Anguilla japonica, in China, Japan, Korea and other parts of Asia represent a volume of almost 300,000 tons annually. The industry relies heavily in the catches of baby glass eels and elvers as they migrate inland from the sea into the rivers and streams where they spend their adult life. They then migrate back to the Pacific Ocean to breed, thousands of feet below the sea. The baby eels are then carried by the Kurushio current to the Sea of Japan, then into the rivers and streams of Japan, China and Korea. The high demand and seasonal availability of Anguilla japonica has driven prices to exorbitant levels. To satisfy eel demand, eel aquaculturists worldwide have been growing other species, such as Anguilla anguilla in Europe and Anguilla rostrata in North America. Because of over harvesting, the export of Anguilla anguilla outside of Europe is increasingly being restricted.

Poseidon’s interest in eel culture dates back several years, its research and development program primarily directed towards developing the four alternative eel species found in Southeast Asian waters. The successful breeding of these eels relies on identification of the appropriate species to culture that matches the taste and meat characteristics of Anguilla japonica, the selection of the right species at the elver stage and the satisfaction of feed requirements needed to culture eels of commercial size and value.

The following are Poseidon’s proprietary technology and business developments in the culture of Southeast Asian eels:

• COLLECTION OF GLASS EELS. The company has identified locations where eels emerge from the deep sea and has organized the collection and live transport of glass eels from these various rivers and tributaries to its testing facilities.

• SORTING OPERATION. Because the glass eels come in from the sea as mixed species, a sorting operation has been developed that efficiently segregates the local species A. japonica, A. celebensis, A. bicolor and A marmorata. This separation allows farmers to grow only those species that have commercial value.

• CULTURE OF ELVERS. The critical period in eel culture is the period from glass eels to juveniles. Mortality occurs from a variety of factors and slow growth or stunting occur in a large proportion of the eel population. Poseidon has developed appropriate culture methods to take the eels from the glass eel stages to juvenile sizes with less percentage of loss, making these eel species more economically viable through commercial culture.

Culture to commercial sizes, feed technologies and processing technologies are well known. Similar methods used for A. japonica and A. anguilla may be effectively used for the other species as well.