There’s no worming out of this: Croatian police say two South Korean citizens have been arrested after trying to smuggle about 252,000 live eels out of the country.
The two men were caught with the young fish packed in eight cases at Zagreb’s international airport last week. Their names have not been released.
Eels are long fish. They can range in length from two inches to 13 feet. When “God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm,” (Genesis 1:21) He was displaying His vast creativity. Scientists believe there are over 20,000 kinds of fish in the sea—about 800 eel species alone! The heaviest eel is the European conger, which can weigh up to 240 pounds.
Several European governments have introduced strict laws about catching eels. But demand in Asian markets has increased, and eel traffickers have flourished.
European Union law enforcement agencies estimate that as much as 100 tons of eels are smuggled outside the EU every year. Most end up in Korean, Chinese, and Japanese cuisine—with Japan consuming more than 70 percent of the world’s eel catch. Broiled, smoked, or grilled eel dishes are popular but can be expensive. In Croatia, a frog-and-eel stew called brudet is a favorite traditional dish.
Police at the Zagreb, Croatia, airport arrested the two because European eels are a protected species.
Croatian media reports that the smuggled eels’ market value is estimated at about $204,000.
Croatian authorities say the smugglers face charges of “destroying protected natural goods.” They could end up in jail if convicted. And the fish? The slippery creatures were handed over to the Zagreb zoo.
(One of eight suitcases containing eels seized at Zagreb international airport in Croatia. Croatian police via AP)