The Cabinet on Tuesday approved bills that would rewrite the country’s fishery laws for the first time in about 70 years as it seeks to encourage more people to start fish farming and revive the shrinking industry.
Under the envisioned system, prefectural governments will no longer prioritize local fishery operators and cooperatives in granting fishing rights, enabling new firms and others to enter the industry more easily.
The clause will not apply if the existing fishery operators are making full use of their fishing grounds.
“We need to secure highly motivated fishing operators and have them fully exercise their power,” said fisheries minister Takamori Yoshikawa, as the government is worried that Japan may be unable to maintain a stable supply of fishery products due to a decline in the number of people in the industry.
The bills also call for the tightening of controls over the poaching of sea cucumbers, abalones and other marine resources that are said to serve as a source of financing for crime syndicates, by raising the maximum fine fifteenfold to ¥30 million ($265,000).
The government aims to have the bills pass the Diet in the current extraordinary session through Dec. 10 and enact them within two years of promulgation.
The nation’s fishery output has halved over the 30 years to 2015, with fish farming making up only 20 percent of the output in contrast with the world average of 50 percent, according to the Fisheries Agency.
The number of people in the industry stood at roughly 160,000 in 2016, down from 238,000 in 2003.
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