Japanese fishing industry stung by plague of giant jellyfish

By | July 22, 2009

A diver attaches a sensor to a large Echizen jellyfishThey poison fish, sting humans and even attack nuclear power stations. They are 6ft wide, up to 440lb in weight, and they are pink, slimy and repellent. They sound like rubber monsters from a Godzilla film, but they are Echizen kurage, or Nomura’s jellyfish, an authentic horror of the deep about to launch its latest assault on Japan. …

In 2005, fishermen looking for anchovies, salmon and yellowtail began finding huge numbers of the jellyfish in their nets. When the Nomuras grow larger than a metre in diameter, half a dozen of them can destroy a fishing net. The fish caught alongside them are poisoned and covered in slime and rendered unsaleable.

So serious was the situation that salmon boats in northern Japan stopped going out, and in some places fishermen lost 80 per cent of their income. Even staff at some of the nuclear power plants along the Japan Sea coast found that the jellyfish got sucked into the pumps which take in sea water to cool the reactors.

No one is sure about the reasons for the slimy plague. …

Meanwhile, enterprising Japanese are making the most of the maritime catastrophe. Fishermen have devised ways of keeping the jellyfish out of their nets with sharp wires. Scientists have discovered a method of extracting collagen form the jellyfish, an ingredient of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, increasingly valued as a health food, and usually extracted from pig or fish carcasses.

Most unlikely of all, a company called Tango Jersey Dairy sells vanilla and jellyfish ice cream, created by soaking diced cubes of Echizen kurage in milk. The resulting desert is described as “slightly chewy”.

via Japanese fishing industry stung by plague of giant jellyfish – Times Online.

One thought on “Japanese fishing industry stung by plague of giant jellyfish

  1. Ni

    The movie Sharkwater might explain for the surplus of jelly fish (Pardon the plug). Lack of abundant predators, also eating what the jelly fish eat. What the jelly fish consume must also belong to something else. That something else is dieing off, leaving the jelly fish to thrive.

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