A Japanese eel, which is an integral part of many dishes in the country’s restaurants, has been added to the endangered species list.
Rich with vitamins and minerals, many believe that the eels help them stay in good health and maintain skin complexion.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature said eel populations have declined by as much as 90% over the past 30 years.
Other species of eel are also facing various levels of threat due to habitat damage and overfishing.
“We must speed up efforts to build large-scale eel production systems,” said Japanese Agriculture Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, adding that failure to do so would risk a very high extinction rate for the species.
Mr Hayashi also said he had little choice but to allow Japanese fishermen to continue catching baby eels for the time being.
Efforts by the Japanese government to farm eels have made little progress due to the animals’ complicated migratory patterns of spawning in remote areas of the ocean.
Experts also said barriers along waterways, pollution and changes in ocean conditions were some factors responsible for dwindling eel numbers.