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Fri, May 30, 2008 - Page 10 News List

Soaring oil prices could force one-third of long-line tuna boats to stay in port: group

LOSE-LOSE SITUATIONFishermen face the choice of losing money because of fuel costs or losing fish if they remain docked. Already, around 140 boats from Taiwan, China and elsewhere are standing idle

AFP , TOKYO

Rising fuel costs may force one-third of ocean-going long-line tuna fishing boats across the world to halt operations, an industry group said yesterday.

About 140 boats from Taiwan, China, South Korea, Fiji and elsewhere are already standing idle at port, said Yuichiro Harada, managing director at the Tokyo-based Organization for the Promotion of Responsible Tuna Fisheries.

“Another 260 boats are considering suspending operations, bringing the total number to about 400” out of 1,174 boats operated by members of the organization, Harada said.

“The more you operate, the more money you lose” because of high fuel costs, he said, adding that a typical Japanese boat would lose ¥100,000 (US$970) in one day of long-line open-ocean fishing.

How long the boats might stay in port for could vary from region to region and depend on whether fuel prices cool, he said.

The organization groups long-line open-ocean tuna fishing boats from Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, China, Equador, Seychelles, Fiji and Vanuatu. Most operators of such ships worldwide are members.

The halt is bound to cause a shortage in raw tuna meat used for Japan’s beloved sashimi, the organization said.

While regretting the looming shortage, Harada blamed speculative investment for pushing up oil prices.

“It is a very big problem for the food industry that it is affected by speculation,” he said.

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