After many years of proposals, a very important agreement for the resource has finally been reached. (Photo: Stockfile)
NPFC unanimously approves first saury quota for the Pacific
Monday, July 22, 2019, 00:10 (GMT + 9)
Japan, China and six other economies of the North Pacific Fisheries Commission agreed for the first time Thursday to set annual catch quotas for pacific saury (in japanese "san'ma" さんま) aimed at addressing fishery resource depletion.
The saury catch limit proposed by Tokyo was set at 556,250 tons in 2020 among the eight participating economies, after two previous attempts to introduce the measure had failed to win support.
Photo file of the 4th Meeting of the NPFC Commission took place in Tokyo, Japan on 3-5 July 2018, and was attended by 120 participants from eight Members: Canada, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, Chinese Taipei, the United States of America, and the Republic of Vanuatu.
During the three-day gathering in Tokyo through Thursday, Japan initially proposed an annual cap of around 450,000 tons, but apparently made a concession to strike the deal that had previously been blocked by opposition from China and other countries.
The 2020 catch limit exceeds the total of some 440,000 tons caught by the eight members in 2018, but Japan stressed the significance of the deal in terms of international efforts to better control fishery resources.
Among people related to fishery, there is a widely shared view that sauries are caught by Chinese and Taiwan fishing boats on the high seas where anyone can catch fish, before they come into Japan’s exclusive economic zone ►
Takashi Koya, director-general of the Fisheries Agency's Resources Management Department, said that although "there are some unsatisfactory elements" in the deal, Japan agreed to it "as a passing point to improve" fishery resource management.
While the commission's eight participants -- Canada, China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, the United States and Vanuatu -- sealed a deal on overall catch quotas for saury, they have not worked out quotas for each member.
Of the 556,250-ton catch limit, 330,000 tons cover high seas and 226,250 tons exclusive economic zones. Specific limits for each member will be discussed at an annual meeting next year and for the 2020 fishing season, the eight economies will try not to exceed their 2018 catches in the high seas that totaled 350,000 tons.
Japan's annual catch was 128,531 tons last year. It had stayed above 200,000 tons but has dropped to around 100,000 tons since 2015.
The fishery industry in Japan welcomed the agreement, which could stop overfishing. Tokyo has been exploring ways to maintain parity amid growing saury fishing in the high seas by China and Taiwan.
"It represents very significant progress that a framework for catch limits has been established," said Kohei Oishi, managing director of a Tokyo-based cooperative on saury fishing. "Japan's industry would like to abide by the rule so that resources recover."
According to a trader based at the Tsukiji market, a retail price of a saury fish in early September, when saury fishing begins in earnest, used to be about ¥150 but it has been in the ¥200-250 range in recent years.
Takayoshi Chiba, the 70-year-old head of a fish market-operating company in Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture, also welcomed the introduction of catch quota, saying, "If each country and region fishes in unregulated manner, there'd be no end to it."
"I hope Japan will be able to secure a quota in the future that enables it to maintain a certain amount of distribution so customers will not go away" due to high prices, Chiba said. Ofunato is a major saury fishing community in Japan.
Pacific saury ("san'ma". さんま) lading in japanese port (Photo: Stockfile)
When Japan first proposed the introduction of overall catch quotas as well as caps for each member in 2017, countries such as China and South Korea voiced opposition.
The international meeting was also divided last year, with Tokyo's attempt to introduce a framework for catch limits for each member, without setting numerical goals, also failing due to opposition from China and Vanuatu.
Source: Kyodo News