Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Is this how the Oceans will recover?

Picture: AP
Picture does not accompany the original article in the Financial Times

Japanese fishermen strike over fuel prices

By Michiyo Nakamoto in Tokyo
Published: July 14 2008 16:47 Last updated: July 14 2008 17:23

My Comment

'Revenge of Gaia' (Lovelock's book by that name) at the Japs for all the overfishing, especially the whales? Industrial scale trawler fishing will suffer setbacks. All for the good maybe, as altered oceans get a breather?

FT Article below

Japan’s fishing industry will hold its first ever nationwide strike on Tuesday in protest against the recent surge in energy costs, adding to the pressure that falling fish populations and pollution are already inflicting on sushi shops and the Japan­ese dinner table.

The strike, which would affect virtually the entire industry of about 200,000 fishing boats in Japanese waters and overseas, aims to underline the plight of the fishermen and put pressure on the government to help them deal with the recent spike in energy prices.

“Many fishermen are being faced with bankruptcy. We are asking the government to deal with a situation in which fishermen cannot afford to go out and fish,” a representative of Zengyoren, the federation of fisheries co-operatives, said on Monday.

The cost of heavy oil used in fishing boats has tripled in the past five years to Y115,000 ($1,080, €680, £542) per kilolitre and is expected to continue rising, the Zengyoren says.

If it hits Y130,000 per kilolitre, between 30 and 40 per cent of businesses will close shop and 50,000 to 60,000 people will lose their jobs, the federation calculates.

“I paid Y90,000 for three days’ worth of fuel and my catch will probably bring in about Y100,000, so if I pay my two employees 30 per cent of that, I am already in the red,” says Suezaburo Tsuruoka, a fisherman in Chiba. Unless financial help is extended, Mr Tsuruoka believes, “half [of small fishing businesses] will quit”.

“We want the government to bear part of the cost of fuel,” he says. My Comment How many folks are how many govts going to bail out. Freddie, Fannie now Fisher?

The government has budgeted Y10.2bn to help fishermen lower their energy costs by increasing efficiency and other measures but says it would be difficult to provide direct energy subsidies to the fishery industry alone.

“Buses, taxis and trucks also face higher energy costs so [helping only fishermen] might not win public support,” says a ministry of agriculture, forestry and fisheries official. My comment There you go!!!

However, the problem for fishermen is that fish prices are set through auctions, making it difficult to tack on higher costs. The average price of fish has fallen from about Y240 per kilo in 1990 to Y178 per kilo last year, according to the Zengyoren.

The strike, which will be for one day, is not expected to have a serious impact immediately on fish supplies at markets and restaurants.

“Storage technology has greatly improved: we have frozen fish, and fish already in tanks,” so supplies will not be unduly depleted, says a representative of Tsukiji, the world’s largest fish market, in Tokyo.

However, if high energy prices were to continue and Japanese fishermen forced out of business, imports would increase and Japan’s self-sufficiency in fish and marine food products would fall from 57 per cent to as low as 30 per cent, Zeng­yoren warns.

South Korea recalled its ambassador to Japan on Monday after Tokyo said it would reaffirm its claim to a group of islands controlled by Seoul in school teaching guides, Reuters reports from Tokyo. South Korea and Japan both lay claim to a group of desolate, rocky islets which Seoul calls Dokdo and Tokyo calls Takeshima. The area surrounding the islets has fertile fishing grounds. My Comment Peak Oil will change geopolitical equations

“Japan should not repeat its behaviour of promising a forward-looking relationship with Korea but then stirring up a dispute such as the Dokdo issue once in a while when the government changes,” South Korea’s presidential office said.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008

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