The government should immediately establish regulations against eel fry smuggling to Hong Kong and Japan so smugglers can be held accountable, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ming-wen (陳明文) said yesterday.
Catches of eel fry, or baby eel, have decreased due to the impact of environmental and climate change, and prices have skyrocketed from NT$10 per eel to NT$170 per eel, Chen told a press conference.
While the government has imposed an annual ban on eel fry export between November and March, smugglers have ignored the ban and exported baby eels to Japan via Hong Kong.
There is no law prohibiting such exports and even though Customs officials confiscate smuggled shipments, smugglers can simply buy back the shipments, Chen said.
“Such actions should be made a crime and regulated in the Punishment of Smuggling Act (懲治走私條例),” Chen said.
Both the smuggling and soaring prices of eel fry have hurt aquaculture workers, a representative from eel farmers organizations said.
Tseng Ching-yen (曾清煙), deputy director of Taipei Customs Office, said his office had made a recommendation to the Ministry of Finance that smugglers be barred from buying back confiscated shipments.
Chen Fen-lan (陳汾蘭), a researcher at the Council of Agriculture’s Fishery Agency, said the agency has established an inter-agency task force to deal with the issue and has urged the Ministry of Justice to revise the law to prevent eel fry smuggling.