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Japanese Tuna Boats May Halt Fishing for High Fuel Price and Resource Recovery

May 26, 2008

Masahiro Ishikawa, President of Federation of Japan Tuna Fisheries Co-operative Association (Japan Tuna), announced their strong consideration of measures to stop tuna long-line fishery, caused by high fuel cost, at a press conference at the association office in Tokyo on May 23, 2008. Time and period for the measures to be executed and the number of boats to be halted are yet to be decided. Japan Tuna aims at more than 20 percent of their boats to stay ashore. Japan Tuna seeks cooperative effort with Taiwan, South Korea, as well as China. Taiwan has already decided to stop fishing for the period of four months.

“The more we fish, the deeper we get in the red,” said Pres. Ishikawa

According to Japan Tuna, fuel cost took up 16 percent of overall operation cost of tuna long-liners in 1986; it was 12 percent in 1996. The percentage has strikingly soared this year as high as 37 percent in April and 43 percent in May. The fuel price has continued to rise this year; resultantly daily operation expenses have substantially exceeded revenue, pressuring long-liner fishery business.

“The rising fuel cost cannot be compensated by current fish price. The more we fish offshore, the more money we lose. A perpetual increase in fuel cost will eventually cause total global elimination of tuna long-liners”, said Pres. Ishikawa. A board meeting, held on May 22, ended with a proposal to stop fishing.

“Working with producer's groups in Taiwan, S. Korea, and China, we intend to discuss clear strategies. Though we have loads of issues to contemplate, such as whether or not all tuna boats will stop operation and when and how long we will execute the measures, we are determined to quickly decide on them. We will also seek assistance measures from the government”, told Pres. Ishikawa.

Resource recovery is another cause

Besides financial difficulty with tuna long-liners, resource recovery of tuna is another cause of the measures. “Most of all, there is no tuna. Currently, only a few boats can harvest more than 1 ton a day. In order for tuna resource recovery, worldwide operation of tuna round haul net fishing needs to be stopped. Absence of long-liners in the sea due to the financial difficulty means a possibility of the vanishing of sashimi grade tuna; nonetheless, we have decided to fight for our survival. We plead for consumer's understanding,” according to Pres. Ishikawa.

There are 250 long-liners belonging to Japan Tuna, most of which are in operation. “We aim to halt the operation of more than 20 percent of long-liners. This is also an expression of our clear intention as a producer; we demand fish price meet operation cost,” strongly stated Pres. Ishikawa.

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