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2008年7月16日 (水)


(Jul. 16, 2008) The Yomiuri Shimbun

Fishermen walking a fine line

全国一斉休漁 漁師らの窮状を救うには(7月16日付・読売社説)

Due to soaring fuel costs, the more often fishermen go fishing, the greater the debt they find themselves in. As it stands, 30 percent of fishermen could see their businesses go belly-up.



About 200,000 fishing boats halted operations nationwide for the first time Tuesday to raise public awareness of their predicament. Heavy oil used as fuel for fishing boats has almost tripled in price over the past five years. This year alone, the price has jumped 1.5-fold, and fuel costs now soak up 30 percent of a boat's total operating costs.



(predicament=苦境、窮地) (fold=倍/折りたたみ) (soak up=染み渡る、浸透する)

The Japan Fisheries Cooperatives and other major fisheries groups, which called on member fishermen to suspend fishery operations, maintain that energy-saving efforts, such as driving their boats at slower speeds, have reached their limit. They have asked the government for direct assistance, such as subsidies to help cover fuel costs.


However, it is not only fishermen who are being squeezed by soaring crude oil prices. Farmers and the transportation industry are in the same boat.

Considering the government's severe financial circumstances, finding the funds for direct assistance to offset soaring fuel costs, which could lead to the pork-barrel spending of tax money, would be very difficult.


(offset=埋め合わせする、相殺する) (pork-barrel=大盤振る舞いの)


Give aid where needed


There is a case to be made for giving government assistance to fishing crews that stay in port while others head out on the brine on a rotation system. However, the assistance should be extended on the premise it will lead to structural reform of the fisheries industry.


(brine=海、大洋) (premise=前提、前提条件)

Within European Union member nations that are considering support measures for fishermen, just like in Japan, there is strong backing for linking this aid to measures to improve management of the fisheries industry, such as by scrapping some fishing boats.



The Japanese fisheries industry should present a blueprint for how to strengthen its management as a basis for government assistance.


The suspension of fishery operations also provides an opportunity to rethink how this nation's fish distribution system should operate and how consumers should buy fish. The surgical knife of reform should start hacking away at the distribution system.


(hacking away=hack away=うまくやりとりする、なんとかこなす)


Short end of the stick


Because fish prices are decided at auctions, fishermen have little wiggle room to pass on the increase in fuel costs to consumers. Adding to their woes, distributors charge a fee to throw away any fish left unsold.


(wiggle=揺れ動くこと) (woe=苦痛、苦悩)

Of a fish sold for 100 yen, a supermarket takes a cut of 60 yen and a fisherman's share is just 24 yen, only a fraction of which is profit after necessary costs have been paid.



Under such circumstances, it is no wonder that soaring fuel costs are pushing fishermen into the red. Efforts must be made to increase the money that goes to fishermen's pockets by streamlining the distribution system and ensuring sensible amounts of fish are purchased at markets.


Ocean-going tuna fishing boats, which have been left reeling by fuel costs, have decided to halt operations for a lengthy period from August. Retail prices of tuna already are creeping up.


(reel=ぐらつく、よろめく) (lengthy=長期の) (creep=這い上がる)

Higher fish prices could further push consumers away buying fishery products. The fisheries industry is prepared to order another nationwide suspension of operations if the government does not meet their requests. However, frequently halting operations across the nation, which will push up fish prices, will not sit well with the public.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 16, 2008)

20087160152  読売新聞)


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