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Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012

Biwa sweetfish egg production sees dramatic fall


OTSU, Shiga Pref. — Sweetfish egg production in Lake Biwa has fallen to around 2 percent of an average year, stirring concerns that catches may drastically decline, according to the fisheries experiment station in Shiga Prefecture.

While the cause remains unknown, a prefectural official described the situation as "abnormal."

The station checks egg production in 11 rivers flowing into Japan's largest lake every year. Four inspections this year through mid-October have confirmed around 200 million eggs, compared with a normal figure of around 11.3 billion.

The latest finding is the lowest since the current inspection method was introduced about 25 years ago.

Lake Biwa is the leading producer of sweetfish in Japan. The reduction in its catch will severely hit the local economy.

Shiga officials said it is possible that lingering summer heat is partly attributable to the decline, while the number of adult fish itself may be falling.

"We don't know if it would be an effective measure, but we are considering purchasing adult sweetfish from fish farms to release them into the rivers," an official said.

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