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Plaintiff fisherman loses in demand bluefin tuna catch quota

Click on the flag for more information about Japan JAPAN
Monday, November 30, 2020, 07:00 (GMT + 9)

Three years ago, the Sapporo District Court appealed to the plaintiff in a trial in which a fisherman in the Rumoi region sought compensation from the national government for the fact that the catch of Pacific bluefin tuna in Hokkaido exceeded the upper limit and it is still impossible to fish. I sentenced him to dismiss.

For resource management, the maximum annual catch of Pacific bluefin tuna is set for each prefecture, but three years ago, some fishermen in Hokkaido landed a large amount of small tuna. , Even now, all fishermen are unable to go fishing.
Nine fishermen in the Rumoi region have sought damages of about 37 million yen, saying that the government and the road did not take measures to obey the rules.

Image: Courtesy NHK video

In a ruling on the 27th, Sapporo District Court Judge Takashi Hirose said, "When and what measures to take are left to the broad discretion of the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries," and "forced measures." Since it is difficult to implement immediately, it cannot be said that it is extremely unreasonable that the state and the road did not take legal action, "he dismissed the plaintiff's proceedings.

After the ruling, one of the plaintiffs, Yukihiko Takamatsu, said, "I'm not convinced that I filed a trial seeking the restoration of my lost rights, but the ruling barely touched on that point."


Image: Courtesy NHK video

Case history

The amount of bluefin tuna that can be caught in the Pacific Ocean is regulated internationally, and the upper limit is set for each country or region. In Japan, a catch quota is set for each prefecture every year, and if the catch is exceeded by taking too much, a system will be set up to deduct the catch from the following year onward, and strict resource management will be carried out.

The trigger for this trial was that in 2017, there were 10 times as many landings as the catch quota in Hokkaido.
In particular, it was revealed that the fishermen in the Watashima region took 13 times the upper limit.
For this reason, fishing has been virtually prohibited in Hokkaido since 2018, and it is expected that fishing will not resume until the 4th year of Reiwa next year.


Image: Courtesy NHK video

The fishermen in the Rumoi region, who had been operating according to the catch quota until then, said that the government and the road had not taken measures to enforce the rules, and asked for damages of about 37 million yen in total. I filed a trial.

In previous proceedings, plaintiffs' fishermen claimed that they were "unconvinced that they were deprived of their right to fish despite their efforts to manage sound resources," while the defendant's country "allocated quotas." Was not given to the fishermen as a right, "he demanded to dismiss the complaint.

Why the frame of Hokkaido is zero

Following the international agreement, bluefin tuna catch restrictions began in Japan in 2015.


Image: Courtesy NHK video

The catch quota for small bluefin tuna weighing less than 30 kg was set at 4007 tons nationwide, of which 111.8 tons were allocated for set net fishing in Hokkaido.

However, in 2017, the third year since the regulation began, a large amount of small bluefin tuna was landed in the Minamikayabe district of Hakodate City, and the catch for this year was 769 tons, which greatly exceeded the limit of Hokkaido.
There was also a situation in which it was not possible to sort and catch because it was landed by set net fishing.
Nevertheless, the Fisheries Agency, in addition to complying with international regulations, maintains fairness in each prefecture.

As it was necessary to keep it, I decided to take the excess and deduct it from the subsequent catch quota.


Image: Courtesy NHK video

As a result of the deduction because the excess width was so large, the catch quota in Hokkaido disappeared completely in 2018, and it became impossible to catch small bluefin tuna not only in the Minamikayabe area where a large amount of fish was caught, but also in the entire area of ​​Hokkaido.

Bluefin tuna resources

Bluefin tuna known as "honmaguro".

Of these, the abundance of bluefin tuna inhabiting the Pacific Ocean has been at a low level.

One of the reasons for this is the overfishing of Japan, a large consumer of bluefin tuna, which has been criticized internationally.
In 2010, the Conference of the Parties to the Washington Treaty was forced into a situation where a proposal to ban international trade could be passed.


Image: Courtesy NHK video

Amid growing international criticism, Japan decided that it was inevitable to introduce strict regulations to restore the abundance of bluefin tuna, and at the 2014 international conference, it was less than 30 kg.
We have agreed on a draft regulation to reduce the catch of small bluefin tuna by 50% from the three-year average from 2002.

Future measures

On this issue, experts haven't had enough time after deciding on international regulations.

In addition to setting a domestic catch quota, he points out that one of the causes is that he was not prepared for measures and penalties for exceeding the quota.


Image: Courtesy NHK video

On top of that, the national government, local governments, and fishermen need to be fully aware of how international regulations will affect local fisheries.

Professor Takeshi Hamada of Hokkai-Gakuen University said, "There was a big problem this time because the relationship between international agreements and domestic coordination was disturbed. The government will ask what kind of influence international management will have in the future. I think it is important to create a management system in a way that the community can take the lead

Source: NHK (translated from original in japanese)

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