How do you tackle an invasion of giant jellyfish? Try making sushiHow do you tackle an invasion of giant jellyfish? Try making sushi
THEY are called echizen kurage and they sound like monsters from the trashier reaches of Japanese science fiction. They are 6ft wide and weigh 450lb (200kg), with countless poisonous tentacles, they have drifted across the void to terrorise the people of Japan. Vast armadas of the slimy horrors have cut off the country’s food supply. As soon as one is killed more appear to take its place. Finally, the quarrelsome governments of the region are banding together to unite against the enemy. Echizen kurage is not an extraterrestrial invader, but a giant jellyfish that is devastating the livelihoods of fishermen in the Sea of Japan. Nomura’s jellyfish, as it is known in English, is the biggest creature of its kind off Japan and for reasons that remain mysterious its numbers have surged in the past few months. The problem has become so serious that fishery officials from Japan, China and South Korea are to meet this month for a “jellyfish summit” to discuss strategies for dealing with the invasion. The problem first became obvious in the late summer when fishermen chasing anchovies, salmon and yellowtail began finding huge numbers of the jellyfish in their nets. Often the weight of the echizen kurage broke the nets or crushed the fish to death. Fishermen on the northern tip of Honshu, Japan’s main island, were forced to suspend work at the height of the lucrative salmon season. In some places jellyfish density is reported to be a hundred times higher than normal. Worst of all, no one yet understands why. In the meantime locals are making the best of it — rather than just complaining about jellyfish they are eating them. Jellyfish are an unusual ingredient of Japanese cuisine but are much more prized in China. Coastal communities are doing their best to promote jellyfish as a novelty food, sold dried and salted. Students in Obama have managed to turn them into tofu, and jellyfish collagen is reported to be beneficial to the skin.