About 55 percent of pleasure boats in Japan are moored in unauthorized locations in ports and rivers, the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry said.

A recent ministry report states that unauthorized mooring has decreased from a fiscal 1996 study, which found that about two-thirds of pleasure boats were not legally moored.

The improvement is due to the introduction of more marina facilities and a new registration system for small boats, the ministry said.

The national and local governments are struggling to find ways to improve the situation as the number of boats moored in unauthorized sites is still high.

The ministry conducted its latest study in October and November, focusing on motorboats and sailing yachts.

Of some 250,000 boats recorded by ministry officials, about 138,000 were seen in areas not designated for mooring. Some 67 percent of 218,000 boats were left unattended in fiscal 1996.

By location, 64,000 of the pleasure boats found in ports were not moored in authorized sites, as were 41,000 of the boats spotted in rivers and 33,000 of the boats found in fishing harbors.

The number of pleasure boats in Japan rose to 366,000 in fiscal 2001, having stood at 336,000 in fiscal 1996, ministry officials said, adding that authorized moorages are insufficient to meet demand.

The government wants to introduce a system under which boat owners would be required to verify the fact that they are keeping their boats in authorized moorage, just like automobile parking. To do this, however, more moorage sites must be established.

The ministry is thus promoting construction of “simplified mooring facilities” and the involvement of the private sector in supporting such projects, the officials said.

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