According to new figures, there is growing demand for New Zealand eel by U.S consumers that has helped increase exports of the fish. Statistics NZ export figures for the industry show sales of eel to North America grew by 115 percent last year. Award winning US restaurateur and executive chef for Hawaiian Airlines Chai Chaowasaree said while the freshwater fish is not yet a common menu item throughout the country, increasingly eel is found in a more diverse range of restaurants.

“Historically, eel has long been a staple in Asian, and particularly, Japanese sushi restaurants across North America, however we are now seeing it incorporated into other styles of cuisine,” said Chaowasaree.

More than $584,000 worth of eel was shipped to US wholesalers last year.