Jellyfish fisheries in Southeast Asia.
A few large jellyfish species in the order Rhizostomeae constitute an important food in Chinese cooking. For more than 1700 years, they have been exploited along the coasts of China. Such jellyfish became an important fishery commodity of Southeast Asian countries in the 1970s with increasing demand from the Japanese market. Recently, Japan has imported 5400-10 000 tons of jellyfish products per year, valued at about 25.5 million US dollars, annually from the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Myanmar. Judging from the type names at market and the external appearance of the semi-dried products, the edible jellyfish harvest in Southeast Asia is composed of more than 8 species. They are caught by various kinds of fishing gear including set-nets, drift-nets, hand-nets, scoop-nets, beach-seines and hooks. The fishery is characterized by large fluctuations of the annual catch and a short fishing season that is restricted from two to four months. The average annual catch of jellyfish between 1988 and 1999 in Southeast Asia is estimated to be about 169 000 metric tons in wet weight and the worldwide catch is approximately 321 000 metric tons. Needs for future study on the biology of rhizostome jellyfish are discussed as they relate to understanding population fluctuations.