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Dolphin quotas center of local fishermen’s dispute

Date Posted: 2006-09-29

Okinawa fishermen are asking the Japanese government for an increase in dolphin quotas, but are being told ‘no’.

The prefecture is currently restricted to permits for six boats and a 120-dolphin catch limit. Okinawa Prefecture, agreeing the limit is too low, has already granted exceptions in 98 cases, but cannot take action in another 241. Dolphin limits, they point out, are set by the central Japan government in Tokyo.

Despite declining dolphin numbers, the fish’s popularity is spawning many requests for fishing quota increases. The nationwide dolphin catch limit is 21,120, while Okinawa is limited to 120. “Nago’s tradition is that people love to eat dolphin meat,” theNago Fishermen’s Dolphin Committee members say, “and we want this tradition back.

In actuality, meat from dolphins caught by Okinawa fishermen doesn’t remain on the island. Instead, it is sent to mainland Fukuoka Prefecture, where the fish nets a higher market price. Of the dolphin meat available here, most is found in Nago City.

World Wildlife Federation Japan’s Shinichi Hanawa says “Dolphin numbers are getting smaller, and they are the property of the world’s people. If there are no more dolphins, what can we do?”

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