The hagfishery of japan

Aubrey Gorbman, Hideshi Kobayashi, Yoshiharu Honma, Michiya Matsuyama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


A commercial fishery for the Pacific hagfish, Eptatretus stouti, has begun on the American and Canadian Pacific coasts and fisheries agencies are trying to develop policies for its regulation. The principal use of the hagfishery is to supply skins for the production of “eelskin” leather, an industry that is centered in South Korea. The only available data that may guide development of hagfishery policies are in the scattered records for three areas in Japan: the coast near Niigata on the Japan Sea; the eastern coast of Honshu Island; and Tsushima, an island midway between South Korea and Kyushu Island, Japan. The Niigata area no longer supports a commercially viable hagfishery, although it once was a primary source of hagfish used as food. The eastern Honshu fishery, after about 30 years of exploitation by both Japanese and Korean fishermen, appears to be undepleted and catch sizes seem to be stable. The Tsushima Island hagfishery is relatively new and small in size. The number of Japanese boats at Tsushima engaged in hagfishing has declined, but the catch per boat has been relatively uniform. If the hagfish is to become a new resource along the eastern Pacific coasts, the relevancy of the Japanese experience must be considered. Possible reasons for the decline of the hagfishery in the Niigata region are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-18
Number of pages7
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1990
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aquatic Science
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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