Kesennuma, Japan: CITES deal might spell trouble

An international agreement to protect sharks could spell trouble for one tsunami-wrecked port in Japan as it struggles back to its feet two years after being swept away, locals say.

Shinichi Sato said his shark processing business in Kesennuma has only just re-started, but he fears a global vote to regulate trade in several species of the predator could put paid to its recovery.

“We don’t just take fins and dump the fish in the way now criticised by the world,” Sato said on Tuesday as he laid out the boomerang-shape fins to dry in the sun.

“We make very good use of the resources.”

Kesennuma has been Japan’s sharkfin hub since the 19th century, and once dealt with 90 percent of all shark landed in the country.

Read the rest of the story: Japan tsunami town on watch for shark deal.

Japanese Eel Officially Recognized as Endangered

On Friday the Japanese government’s Environment Ministry officially added Nihon unagi, or Japanese eel, to the “endangered” category of the country’s Red List of animals ranging from “threatened” to “extinct.” Joining other endangered fish species that live in domestic rivers, marshes, and lakes, the eel’s worsening status means there is a high risk of complete extinction in the near future.

It was only in mid-September of last year that the Japanese eel was designated as “vulnerable,” a status that indicates the beginnings of a threatened existence. The yearly catches of the eels have rapidly deteriorated in recent years, now standing at only 5% of the levels seen in the 1960s. Observers believe a loss of natural habitat, combined with overfishing, is the primary reason for the declining numbers. Much like other types of seafood, Japan is one of the world’s largest consumers of eel, accounting for nearly 70%. Analysts warn the Japanese eel is indispensable to the country’s food culture, and protection measures like limiting catches are necessary to save the species.

The problem, however, is that the Red List has no legal authority in Japan, meaning there is way to implement binding regulations in the near future. Japan’s Fisheries Agency says it will work towards the species’ recovery with protection measures, but as it’s an organization that works for profits, who knows how much truth there is to that claim. Large quantities of Japanese eel are actually imported from China and Taiwan, and talks between the three countries about limiting catches have already begun.

Japan’s Midnight Bunny Off Endangered Species List

The Amami Black rabbits are found only on the tiny islands of Amami Oshima and Toku no shima in the Nansei Islands far out to sea near Okinawa.

The special bunny has seen a series of promotions in status over the years, firstly becoming a natural monument in 1921, protecting it from being hunted. Then in 1963 the bulky bodied, short hind legged rabbits was then further elevated in status to special natural monument, preventing both hunting and trapping of the isolated species.

Read the rest of the story: Japan’s midnight bunny off endangered species list.