Japanese consumers believe the price of seafood is high relative to meat, while fishermen believe it is relatively low because they are hit hard by fuel prices boosted by soaring oil prices, according to a government white paper released Friday.

The fiscal 2005 white paper on fisheries trends was submitted by Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Shoichi Nakagawa and approved at a Cabinet meeting.

The report stresses that producers should be well aware of the wide gap in price perceptions and pressured them to respond adequately to consumer needs.

The report cites the results of a survey showing consumers tend to see product districts and brands as decisive factors when buying meat, but make freshness the priority when buying seafood.

The report cites a fisheries cooperative that boosted sales sharply by improving its store displays and increased sales at supermarkets in metropolitan Tokyo.

The government report also calls for fish merchants to make better use of the Internet to make distribution more efficient and reduce costs.

To deal with crude oil price spikes, the report proposes that regional fisheries cooperatives integrate their facilities to supply fuel oil to fishing boats as part of efforts to streamline operations.

It also calls for promoting joint research projects with China and South Korea to stem the mass generation of large jelly fish, which disrupted fisheries along the Sea of Japan coast last year.

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