News

Cuts in Tuna Quotas to Cost Sushi Lovers

For those who enjoy eating raw fish, there is no greater delicacy than dark red fatty tuna. Choice cuts of the fish command luxury prices not only in Japan, but increasingly throughout Asia, Europe and the Americas. VOA's Steve Herman reports from Tokyo that over-fishing of prized tuna species is prompting international action to cut quotas.

For Japan's sushi restaurants and their customers, the most prized dishes could soon become more expensive and scarce.

Long a delicacy in Japan, the bluefin tuna, a two-and-a-half meter long fish, also is a popular dish in the Mediterranean region. Now it is in vogue worldwide, with fans of Japanese food eating bluefin raw as sashimi or atop vinegared rice as sushi.

But fishermen, environmentalists and marine biologists worry that over-fishing could push some tuna species toward extinction. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas is cutting the quota for bluefin.

The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission's science committee is recommending a quota cut for less expensive bigeye tuna, also known as "ahi" or "mebachi."

Here in Japan, the world's top tuna importer, sushi chefs are lamenting the new quotas.

Yuji Namiki, the owner of the Sen-nori restaurant, a Tokyo sushi bar, says he will resist raising prices for tuna because it is a hassle to print new menus. He predicts that many sushi restaurants, known for their high quality tuna, will resist increasing prices - even if it means a loss - so as not to drive away customers to competitors.

Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Tomohiko Taniguchi says Tokyo wants to be a leader in promoting marine conservation. But he acknowledges Japan, as the world's top tuna importer, needs to do more to prevent its own fishermen from violating the catch limits.

"It was regrettable that some of the illegal activities were actually conducted by the Japanese fishing industry, when it comes to bluefin tuna," he said. "The Japanese government is going to encourage all engaged in fishing the tuna to faithfully follow the set norm."

The new quota cuts do not go far enough for some. Environmental organizations and the United States government asked the Atlantic group to impose even more severe restrictions on bluefin catches. Some environmentalists argue that even with the cuts, some tuna species remain in danger of collapse.

Concerns about over-fishing go beyond tuna. A two-day meeting began on Wednesday in Jakarta to heighten regional cooperation on the problem. Officials from 13 countries, including Japan and China, are at the meeting, which aims to develop a regional network to monitor fish stocks and illegal fishing.

Officials warn that unless there is better international cooperation, illegal fishing controlled by crime syndicates will increase, and push more species toward extinction.


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs