Small koi or pondfish can be found throughout Japan, though they are rarely found in the ocean.
They have long been a staple of Japanese cooking, but over the past few years, the fish have been a growing problem.
The most recent numbers indicate that more than 6,600 people died in Japan from fish-related illnesses last year, a 40% increase from 2015.
While Japan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare has been scrambling to find ways to contain the rise in infections, the government has been trying to promote Japanese cooking and encourage consumers to eat more local ingredients.
They’ve also been urging people to stop eating certain seafoods, which they see as contributing to the rise.
On Monday, the ministry released a survey that asked consumers whether they’d eat more koi in the future.
Only 8% of respondents said they’d want to eat koi, but 42% said they would want to use other kinds of fish and 14% said it would be fine.
“We’re trying to get people to think about ways of eating less fish, and to eat fish that are not fishy at all,” a spokesman told AFP.
“The koi poll showed that more people are starting to say that they’d be more likely to eat less fish.”
The survey was conducted by the research institute of the National Institute of Health (Nihon University) between November 2016 and January 2017.
According to a statement, the survey showed that 52% of Japanese respondents want to “implement a new system to control the amount of fish in the diet,” while 41% want to introduce new fish-based foods.
But koi are still far from being the only food to blame.
In February, a study from the University of Tokyo revealed that fish-eating had been linked to an increased risk of catching and transmitting fish-resistant superbugs such as E.coli and salmonella.
“It’s not only the popularity of koi that is increasing, but also the spread of other pathogens, which can make it harder to control these outbreaks,” Dr. Katsura Yamaguchi, a microbiologist at Nihon and co-author of the study, told AFP in a statement.
“In addition, people who don’t eat fish are not only being exposed to pathogens, but the organisms themselves are making them more vulnerable to spread.”
Yamaguchi said that while the government should focus on the environment, they should also work on how to make sure the health of Japanese people is not affected.