J. Fish. Soc. Taiwan , 30( 1): 43-53
Impact of Successful Larval Rearing on the Competitiveness of
the Eel Aquaculture in Taiwan , Japan and China
Yu-Hui Chen * , Yir晦-Chou Lee and I Chiu Li a0
(Received, December 3, 2002; Revised, January 10, 2003; Accepted, January 20, 2003)
Eel is one of the mostimportant aquaculture species in Asia. Taiwan , Japan , and
China are the leading eel-producing countries , contributing to about 90% of the world eel
aquaculture production. Since the technology on larval rearing has not yet been
established, the glass eel supply is entirely dependent on natural harvest , which limits the
scale and area of eel aquaculture. Such dependence results in the fluctuation of seed
prices and the instability of the industry's development. Since the seed expense
contributes to 30%-60% of the eel production cost , it is believed that the commercialization
of larval rearing technology will be able to abate the eel production cost , and therefo悶，
elevate the competitiveness of eel aquaculture. The Domestic Resource Cost (DRC)
index was used in this research to analyze the impact of successful propagation on the
competitiveness of the eel aquaculture in Taiwan , Japan , and China. Our results suggest
that the first country to successfully achieve the technique in larval rearing would be
rewarded with the most profit. This paper also provides some suggestions to improve the
competitiveness of the eel aquaculture in Taiwan , Japan , and China.
Key words: Eel aquaculture, Larval rearing, Competitiveness.
Due to its high nutritional qu ality, high
productivity , high market price , and well
established grow-out culture techniques,
eel is an ideal species for aquaculture.
8ince the technology on artificial propagation of eel has not yet been successful ,
the glass eel supply is entirely dependent
on natural harvest, which limits the scale
and area of eel aquaculture. Encouraged
by the high profitability of Taiwanese eel
aquaculture, China and Malaysia also
developed their eel aquaculture that
resulted in an excess demand for glass
eels and elvers which significantly
increased the prices of glass ee l. For
instance, the price of glass eels in Taiwan
even j umped to 1.98 U8$/piece in 1994.
High seed price not only increased eel
production cost, but also set back the
development of the eel aq uaculture.
It has been a great challenge for the
aquaculture community to stabilize the
supply of glass eels an d elvers. 8ince
the early 1950s, many researchers have
attempted to breed eel under laboratory
conditions (Matsui , 1952; Yamamoto and
Yamauchi , 1974; Yu and Tsai , 1994; 8ato
et al. , 1995 , 1996 , 1998; Tanaka , 1999a , b;
Li ao and Chang, 2001). Li mited knowledge
on reproductive physiology, feeding behavior,
nutritional requirement , and larval ecology ,
however , have accounted for the difficulty
in the development of artificial propaga-
Institute of Fishery Science , National Taiwan University, Taipei 106 , Taiwan
Department of Agricultural Economics , National Taiwan University , Taipei 106, Taiwan
3Taiwan Fisheries Research Institute, Keelung 202 , Taiwan
Corresponding author, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wu-Chung Lee , Yu-Hui Chen , Ying-Chou Lee and I Chiu Li ao
tion techniques. Nevertheless , in recent
years , progress in larval rearing has been
made. The duration of eel larval rearing
in the laboratory has reached 31 days and
22 days , respectively , in Taiwan (Yu and
Tsai , 1994) and China , and even up to
253 days in Japan (Tanaka , 1998 , 1999a ,
b). The laUer is considered to be a
technological breakthrough in eel artificial
propagation. It is anticipated that the
larval rearing technology will be successful
in the early 21 st century through biotechnology (Li ao , 2001).
The seed expense constitutes a large
po吋 ion of total eel production cost , varying
from 30% to 60% (Chou and Lee , 1993).
If the glass eels and elvers can be
supplied through artificial propagation , eel
production cost structure may be reduced
drastical 旬， which will in turn affect the
competitiveness of the eel producing
countries in Asia. Therefore , an early
evaluation of this development is necessary
as one of the basis for modifying the
structure and policy design of eel aquaculture in the future .
Taiwan , Japan , and China are the
principal eel producing and eel consuming
countries , contributing to more than 85.8%
of the world eel aquaculture production
(Fig. 1) and 85.6% of the world eel consumption (Fig. 2). These three countries were ,
therefore , chosen for this research to
investigate their competitiveness in the
Japanese eel market , before and after the
success of eel larval rearing. The ∞mpara回
tive advantage theory was adopted for this
investigation under the assumption that
eel larval rearing is successful and stable.
Yu (1976) adopted the Domestic
Resource Cost (DRC) , the net social profit ,
and the marginal society productivity to
analyze corn and soybean industries and
concluded that DRC was the best
approach in investigating industry's competitiveness. DRC approach was also used
to analyze the advantage of competition
among the rice industries of the U.S. ,
Taiwan , the Philippines , and Thailand
(Pearson et al. , 1976), and the competitiveness of rice , sugarcane , hogs and some
other commodities in Taiwan (Chen ,
2000). Li ng et al. (1999) also employed
the approach in the field of aquaculture to
assess the competitiveness of the Asian
The competitiveness of eel aquaculture in Taiwan , Japan ,
and China was also investigated by Lee et
al. (2002) using both the net private
profitability (NPP) and DRC approaches
and time series data for 1990-1999.
Their finding suggest that the Chinese eel
aquaculture possesses competitive advantage over Taiwan and Japan. As men 同
tioned above , although DRC approach
has been adopted in assessing the
competitiveness of several aquacultural
industries , none of them ever use the very
approach to evaluate the impact of
successful larval rearing on the competitiveness of eel aquaculture industry
among countries or regions.
research , similar analytical approach was
adopted to investigate and compare the
shift in competitiveness of eel aquaculture
in Taiwan , Japan , and China before and
after the success of larval rearing under
the assumption that larval rearing is
successful and stable.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
The data on the production costs and
market prices of the eel aquaculture
during the period of 1990-1999 in Taiwan
and Japan were collected from the Taiwan
Fisheries Administration (Anon ., 1990-1999 ,
1990-2000a) and the statistics published
by the Japanese government (Anon. , 19902000b , 1990-2000c, 1990-2000d , 19902000e).
The statistics data for the
Chinese eel aquaculture were obtained by
using the survey data conducted by
Taiwan Eel Development Foundation and
Taiwan Eel and Shrimp Expo吋ers TradeUnion. Lacking of reliable statistical data ,
the externalities are ignored in this study.
The domestic resource costs of
foreign exchange earned or saved by a
production activity indicates the social
oppo吋unity cost of earning a net marginal
unit of foreign exchange (Pearson , 1974).
Impact of Successful Larval Rearing on the Competitiveness
Fig. 1. Production percentage of the major eel aquaculture producing countries in the world in 1999.
Fig. 2. Eel consumption of major eel producing countries in the world in 1999.
Wu-Chung Lee , Yu十~ui Chen , Ying-Chou Lee and I Chiu Li ao
Since the expenses of inputs are required
in calculating DRC , the categories of
inputs used in production and their costs
is needed to be defined firs t. In general ,
inputs applied to production activities can
be divided into two categories , tradable
and non-tradable factors.
factors can be either exported to earn
foreign exchange or used domestically to
save foreign exchange.
factors represent those inputs that cannot
be traded and can only be used domestically. Moreover, concept of opportunity
cost is employed in evaluating commodity
prices and input costs.
economic theory , the opportunity cost is
defined as the value of the best alternative
use of a resource. The opportunity cost
of a tradable commodity is equal to its
border price that is the price of an expo吋
or impo的 converted into domestic currency
at a given exchange rate (Chenery , 1981)
An expo吋 bord er price is the domestic
price at the point of export , free on board
the carrier (the f.o.b. price). An impo吋
border price is the domestic price at the
national border , inclusive of cost , insurance ,
and freight (the c.i .f. price) (Chen , 2000).
The opportunity costs of non-tradable
commodities are domestic shadow prices.
The efficiency value of a non-tradable
input is given by its contribution to output
in the next best alternative use. If th ere
is no alternative use , the shadow price is
zero. If the contribution of the non-tradable input to the alternative use has a
higher value than to its current use , then
the shadow price is positive and greater
than its actual observed price. If the
market is purely competitive , the market
price is equal to the shadow price (Tsakok ,
According to Pearson and Meyer
(1974) , DRC can be defined as:
Domestic resources and nontradabl einputs valued
at oppor! unity costs or shadow price
Net foreign exchange earned or saved by
producing the good dornestically
The formula used in calculation can
be expressed as:
DRC ，=缸片 +1~'Jj , E
ajj: The quantity of the jth tradable input
needed to produce a unit of output ,
j=1.. .k; the quantity of the jth
non-tradable input needed to produce
a unit of output , j=k+1.. .n;
Vj: The opportunity costs of domestic
. resources and non-tradable inputs;
Pt Border price of the jth input;
Pj Border price of the ith output;
E: The externality cost in the production
of the ith outpu t.
When DRC j = 1, the industry is on the
break even point of benefit and cost; DRCj
> 1, the industry is noncom petitive in the
market; DRCj< 1, the industry is competitive in the market.
In this study all input factors , except
seed and feed , are assumed as nontradable inputs and their shadow prices
are equal to their domestic market prices.
Seed is treated as a tradable factor ,
primarily because the supply of glass eel
is totally dependent on natural harvest
and on seeds imported from other
countries. Feed, either produced domestically or im ported , is treated as a tradable
factor , primarily because it cannot be
Thus , imported
seed and feed increase the foreign
content of the final output of eel production. The c.i .f. prices in foreign markets
are treated as shadow prices of eel
expo付s ， taking into account opportunity
costs of transport , distribution , and quality
differences (Li ng et al. , 1999).
Major expenses for eel production in
Taiwan , Japan and China include costs of
seed , feed and labor. Other expenses
are summarized in Table 1. In 1990 , eel
production cost in Taiwan was 6.25 US$/
kg , while that of Japan was 9.89 US$/kg ,
and China was 7.00 US$/kg. Feed expense
Table 1. Eel aquaculture production ∞8t in Taiwan , Japan , and China
Fuel , M凶icine and Rent.
Soun臼:L自 et al. (2∞。
1 3. 03
『2 0330 。。
扭曲 gnn 臣 HU一間別品市自助別巾。一∞的“扭花泣制品的
Lee , Yu-Hui
Ying-Chou Lee and I Chiu Li ao
contributed to 37.80% (Taiwan) , 32 .40%
(Japan) , and 37.20% (China). In 1993 ,
eel production costs were 10.89 US$/kg ,
14.81 US$/kg , and 10.62 US$/kg in
Taiwan , Japan , and China , respectively.
Seed expense contributed to 50.78%
(Taiwan) , 39.10% (Japan) , and 39.55%
(China) of the total production cos t. The
shortage in seed harvest and the increase
in price of glass eel caused a significant
increase in production cost in Taiwan in
1998 , amounting to 13.87 US$/kg ,
61.79% ofwhich were seed cost (Table 1).
A great harvest of glass eels in 1999
resulted in a low seed expense in Japan
which in turn made the total production
cost drop to 12.29 US$/kg. In the same
year , the Chinese production cost was
6.09 US$/kg , of which 27.75% were
accounted for seed expense.
apparent that the seed price plays the
most important role in eel production cos t.
That is the reason why Taiwan , Japan ,
and China are devoting a great deal of
efforts in seeking the technological breakthrough in eel artificial propagation (Lee et
al. , 2002).
The competitiveness prior to the success
of larval rearing
According to the calculated results ,
the DRC indices of the Taiwanese eel
aquaculture rose from 0.73 in 1990 to
0.94 in 1996. The DRC index further
increased to 1.22 in 1998 , the first time it
exceeded one , implying a relative
disadvantage in the Japanese eel market
(Table 2). Due tothe great harvest of
glass eels in 1999 , the cost of tradable
inputs was reduced and the DRC index
dropped to 0.51 in that year. These
results indicate the importance of seed
expense on the competitiveness of the
Taiwanese eel aquaculture.
China started to put great efforts in
developing its eel aquaculture since early
1990s. The immature production t，敏::hnology
and low production efficiency caused its
DRC index to be greater than one from
1990 to 1993 (2.13-1.05) but have been
decreasing slowly since then. With the
production technology transfer from Taiwan ,
China's competitiveness improved and
the DRC indices was reduced to less than
one since 1994 reducing to a low of 0 .4 2
in 1999. The rich natural resources and
cheap labor cost made the DRC index in
China to be lower than that in Taiwan and
Japan eel aquaculture maintained its
competitiveness in the early 1990s.
However, the increasing production cost
and importing large amount of cheap eel
products had weakened its advantage ,
and Japan eventually lost its leadership
C 一巴 9891116036
a‘ MVe AU cuaAUVanH aGUe
Table 2. Calculated Domestic Resource Cost (DRC) Indices of the eel aquaculture in
Taiwan, Japan , and China
Impact of Successful Larval Rearing on the Competitiveness
Competitiveness after the success of
According to the past experiences in
raising grass prawn , grouper, kuruma
prawn , and milkfish , the seed price is
decreased by about 80% after the
technology on artificial propagation
became successful (Li ao , 1991). The
average seed price for the past 5 years
(1995-1999) is used as a baseline for the
price a吋 ustment when larval rearing
technology is applied in mass production
of seed. The corresponding DRC indices
are calculated when the price deduction is
assumed to be in the range of 10%-90%.
The historical record of the relationship
between eel price and seed price for the
past decade was used to adjust the eel
successful larval rearing. Our findings
suggest that when Taiwan is the first to
succeed in artificial propagation and the
quantity of seed production is high enough
to lower the seed price from 1.07
US$/piece to 0.64 US$/piece , a 40%
decrease , its DRC index will become 0.53
which is less than the current DRC index
of China (0. 55) (Table 3). When the
price decrease caused by successful
larval rearing is more than 40% , the DRC
index of Taiwanese eel aquaculture will be
expected to be lower than the current
DRC index of both China and Japan. On
the other hand , if Japan is the first to
succeed in larval rearing and the seed
price can be reduced from 1.11 US$/piece
to 0.78 US$/piece , a 30% decrease , then
its DRC index will be lower than one ,
indicating a move from a less competitive
to a competitive one.
If Japan can
further reduce the seed price by 90% , its
DRC index will become 0.52 that is lower
than the current DRC indices of China
(0.55) and Taiwan (0.88).
Lately , if
China takes the lead in la川al rearing , its
DRC index will be further reduced from its
current value and its competitiveness will
be strengthened as well (Table 3).
Since the 1950s , researches on eel
artificial propagation have been conducted
(Matsui , 1952). Due to the complexity in
biology and life cycle of the eel , artificial
propagation is still far from complete
success (Larsen and Dufour, 1993; Tesch ,
1997). The longest survival duration so
far in the larval rearing of the Japanese
eel is 253 days (Tanaka , 1999a , b). It is
anticipated that a major breakthrough on
larval rearing would be achieved in the
near future (Satoh et al. , 2001). Examining
the impacts of commercialized artificial
propagation on the competitiveness of the
Table 3. Forecasted Domestic Resource Cost (DRC) Indices before and after the
success in larval rearing
0.88 0.77 0.67 0.59
(1.07) (0.97) (0.86) (0.75)
0.55 0.50 0.4 6 0.42
(0.96) (0.87) (0.77) (0.68)
1.57 1.15 1.00 0.88
(1.11) (1.00) (0.89) (0.78)
會 The average DRC during the period of 1995司 1999.
The percentage that seed price will be reduced
( ) Parenthesis represents the average price for glass ee l.
(0 .4 3)
Wu-Chung Lee , Yu-Hui Chen , Ying司 Chou Lee and I Chiu Li ao
eel aquaculture has been a subject of
interest to researchers as well as the
ßased on the Taiwanese aquacultural
experience , successful artificial propagation
is a key factor in the industry's development and growth (Liao , 1993). In the
case of eel , the first country to make a
breakthrough in larval rearing will make a
great improvement in its competitiveness
(Table 3). Once successfullarval rearing
is achieved , the value of DRC indices will
be altered as the seed prices change
The DRC indices will
become 0.77-0.35 , 0.50-0.29 , and 1.150.52 in Taiwan , China , and Japan , respectively , which would be lower than their
current DRC indices of 0.90 , 0.55 , and
The impact of successful larval rearing
on the competitiveness of the eel aquacul圖
ture in Japan would be greater than that in
Taiwan and China. Due to environmental and cl imatic limitations , the
Japanese eel farmers have to stock glass
eels and elvers earlier than in Taiwan and
China. Therefore , Japanese farmers pay
more for glass eels and elvers , which
increase their production costs and ,
consequently , reduces their competitiveness (Table 4). Through artificial propagation , their domestic glass eel supply could
be stabilized , th us avoiding the importation of expensive glass eels and elvers
and ultimately elevating its competitiveTable 4. Eel production cost in Taiwan ,
Japan , and China , 1990-1999
11 .4 9
Unit: US $/kg
ness in the Japanese eel market. This
scenario is similarly being foreseen by
some expe巾 in Japan (Satoh et al. ,
In the past , Taiwan possessed a
much beUer eel aquaculture production
technology and produced beUer quality
product than China. The high quality eel
products from Taiwan commanded a
beUer price that compensates for its
higher production cost (Chou and Lee ,
Taiwanese businessmen can
now establish business in China more
freely. Many of them not only invest in
feed plants , eel processing plants , and eel
aquacultu 舟， but also share the Taiwanese
experiences , capital , and even the
technologies , which effectively improve
the quality of the Chinese eel products
The Chinese eel aquaculture has had a
great leap since 1993. It abated Taiwan
as the most competitive Asian country in
the eel aquaculture. In 1999 , the total
eel production in China amounted to
130 ,000-140 ,000 mt , and their exports
reached 97 ,000 mt (Liu , 1999; Lin, 2000).
China not only earned foreign exchanges
of as much as 750 million U.S. dollars , but
simultaneously improved its economy in
the rural communities. In recent years ,
the quality of eel produced in China is
similar to or even beUer than that produced
in Taiwan . Therefore , if China takes the
lead in larval rearing , combined with its
rich natural resources and cheap labor
cost , the Chinese eel aquaculture would
have the absolute advantage in the
Japanese eel market.
The above conclusion was based
upon the assumption that the eel larval
rearing technology will not be disseminated.
In reality , however, it is inevitable that
others may eventually catch up. When
either Taiwan , China or Japan , individually
succeeds in developing the technology ,
their DRC indices will significantly decrease,
assuming the seed price drops to at least
40%. If the seed price of eel is reduced
to 80% which is similar to other species
where larval rearing technology is fully
developed , the DRC indices would further
Impact of Successful Larval Rearing on the Competitiveness
decline to a low 0.38 , 0.30 , and 0.56 for
Taiwan , China , and Japan , respectively.
Under this situation , the order of competitiveness for Taiwan , Japan , and China
Europe is another important area as
far as eel aquaculture production and
consumption are concerned. The major
eel species cultured in Europe is Anguilla
anguilla (European eel). Currently , the
seed price for the European eel is lower
than that of the Japanese ee l.
considerable quantity of European eel
elvers is sold to Asia , especially to China.
The European countries are trying to
impose some export control to stop the
unlimited export of elvers to Asia
(Raymonde , 2001). On the other hand ,
China intensely expo付s its eel products to
the European market that causes the
decline of eel price in Europe.
possible that the success in larval rearing
of the Japanese eel would have a
significant impact on the European eel
market. Evaluations of this impact could
be taken in a future research.
Based on the findings of this study ,
we recommend to accelerate the research
on eel larval rearing techniques , by
integrating the current funding , labor force
and information , and inviting more
researchers to work on breeding , genetic
engineering , and biochemistry.
government should prioritize this research
and encourage both private and governmental research institutes to devote more
The authors thank D r. Hsi-Huang
Chen (Department of Agricultural Economics ,
National Taiwan University , Taiwan) and
D r. Chi幽Reng Chen (Council of Agriculture ,
Executive Yuan , Taiwan) for the guidance
on modeling , Dr. Chang-Tai Shih , Josephine
N. Nocillado (Taiwan Fisheries Research
Institute , Taiwan) and Ms. Chiung-Hsia
Wang (Department of Agricultural E∞nom惱，
National Taiwan University, Taiwan) for
their constructive comments of an earlier
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Impact of Successful Larval Rearing on the Competitiveness
李武忠 1 ，3
陳郁蕙 2會圖李英周廖一久 3
(2002 年 12 月 3 日收件 ;2003 年 1 月 10 日修正; 2003 年 1 月 20 日接受)
價的大幅波動 ，增加產業發展的不穩定性。有鑑於此，有關學者專家莫不 努力研發，期待
DRC (Domestic Resource Cost)作為指標模擬分析三國在鰻苗人工繁殭成功後之競爭力，
結果發現臺灣 、日本及中國中任何一個國家，優先取得人工繁殖技術者， 則能大幅提高該
1 國立台灣大學漁業科學研究所，台北 106 '臺灣
2 國立台灣大學農業經濟學系，台北 106 ，臺灣
3 行政院農業委員會水產試驗所，基隆 202 '臺灣