Harvesting and Marketing

When eels reach marketable size, they are harvested daily or once every few days, usually at feeding time. The ideal marketable size is 5-6 fish/kg for the Japanese market and more than 6 fish/kg for other markets.

There are several ways of eel harvesting in the ponds. The common practice is by placing a net below the feeding platform. Other methods include draining the pond and catching the eels in long net bags or by drawing a seine across the pond.

Harvested eels are sorted into different sizes. Smaller ones are put back to the pond for further growth. The harvested eels are then starved for about two days by holding them in baskets in front of the water inlet of the pond or in midpond, or stacking perforated plastic baskets under showers of trickling water. They are then packed and sent to the market. Starvation removes undigested substances inside the intestine. This minimizes the risk of meat contamination with gastroenteric bacteria during cutting and deboning in processing plants.

Eels, when marketed live or quick frozen and glazed, fetch fair prices. When they are transported to the market live, eels are packed in containers with conditions that may vary, depending on the transport time and distance (Fig. 8).

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