Japan must mend ways, take lead in efforts to protect fishing resources

The Yomiuri Shimbun Fish are indispensable for our tables every day. To make the use of marine resources consistent with the preservation of such products, Japan should spearhead efforts to achieve this objective as a major fishing country.

Competition among nations worldwide for fishing resources is becoming more and more intense. One reason for this is the significant 30 percent increase in the world’s consumption of marine products over the past 10 years, following the economic growth of China and other emerging nations.

There has been an increase in the number of Chinese, Taiwan and other fishing boats operating in international waters close to Japan. Consequently, Japan’s haul of fish has decreased to one-third of its peak. Our nation’s catch of katakuchi-iwashi anchovy, salmon and surumeika squid has fallen by 60 percent over the past 10 years. The price of these products has been trending upward because of their declining supplies.

As a generally accepted practice, the management of marine resources in international waters is handled under the framework of a regional fisheries management organization (RFMO). Countries involved with fishing in certain areas of the sea establish a RFMO and set individual fishing quotas and other matters in this framework.

Japan approaches the countries concerned with a proposal to create rules based on each nation’s catch records and scientific data on the amount of fishery resources. However, it is no easy task to form a consensus among them.

An international conference on restricting Pacific bluefin tuna fishing will start in South Korea on Aug. 28, at a time when tuna has sharply decreased because of overfishing. The meeting will be attended by 10 nations and regions. Japan intends to propose creating a mechanism that would relax the current regulations if the amount of bluefin tuna increases more than expected in the future.

Voluntary compliance a must

However, the circumstances are far from favorable for having…

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