Japan urged to lead marine preservation

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in a report released Tuesday stressed a need for Japan, as the largest importer of fishery products, to work toward boosting cooperation worldwide for the preservation of marine resources.

The fiscal 1999 annual report on fisheries, approved Tuesday by the Cabinet, says Japan is the world’s largest importer of marine products, accounting for 28 percent of marine product imports worldwide in value terms and 15 percent in volume terms.

Eyeing the world’s biggest market, some people are recklessly catching tuna, for example, by dodging conservation rules made by international organizations, the report says.

To bypass those rules, these people employ “ships of convenience” that are registered in a country that is not a member of such international agencies, the report said.

To discourage such practices, Japan has been requiring identification of ships used by tuna importers and urging that importers refrain from dealing with catches from operators of ships of convenience.

But the annual report says it is necessary for Japan to work harder toward stemming such a practice by establishing international trade rules against it.

Elsewhere, the fiscal 1999 report says the annual supply of fishery products was 70.6 km per capita, the fourth biggest in the world, but added that Japan’s fishery industry experienced a reduction in production by 10 percent in 1998 from a year before to 6,684,000 tons.

It marked the first time in 33 years that the industry’s output dropped below 7 million tons, the report said.

As a result, Japan’s self-sufficiency in fishery products for human consumption dropped to a record low 57 percent, it said.

The report thus stressed also a need for increased resource management in waters around Japan and a need for devising ways to increase fishery production. via farming and other means.

The ministry plans to submit to the Diet next year a bill for establishing a basic law to map out rules for sustainable use of fishery products.