Seahorses to be farmed for traditional medicine

A project is under way to breed a protected seahorse species that is widely used in traditional kampo medicine.

The Shizuoka Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Tokai University's School of Marine Science and Technology say they will start farming a species known as the Hippocampus kuda.

Although more than 99 percent of all seahorses die in their natural habitats within a month after birth, Tokai University Professor Akiyama Nobuhiko and his team have succeeded in raising 60 percent or more by controlling the water temperature and the food.

Akiyama says he wants to help prevent as many species as possible from going extinct.

The Shizuoka Chamber of Commerce says it will start building a farm later this year on an island in Ehime Prefecture, western Japan.

In traditional medicine, dried seahorses are used as raw materials for their energizing properties. Approximately 200 seahorses weigh about 1 kilogram. One kilogram of seahorses can be traded for hundreds or thousands of dollars in China.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species restricts the export of seahorses.