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Fewer bonito, higher costs spell economic disaster for fishermen

Date Posted: 2007-09-16

Miyakojima Archipelago has been a top spot for fishermen seeking the tasty bonito for more than a century, but changing bonito migration patterns are strangling profits.
Bonito fishing has all but stopped in the past year because fewer fish are being located in and around Miyako, but also because the cost of sending the boats out has become prohibitive. Increased fuel prices have turned the bonito fishing industry, begun in 1906, into a losing proposition. Less than 60 years ago, bonito were plentiful in the region and the traditional fishing lifestyle made residents a comfortable living.
That began changing about four years ago, when fishermen saw gas prices soar, making it more difficult to go searching for the bonito. “I felt sorry to stop our tradition,” one fisherman lamented. “Normally we have ten workers in one boat, and had to pay them. Now, without much fish, I can’t pay their salaries.”
A fishermen’s association director says “We would like to keep our fishing going forever, because bonito are good for everyone.” He says Miyako fishermen “have courage to go on fishing for bonito, but we don’t have enough money.” He is hoping the government will begin making rebates on everything from fuel to ice, giving the fishermen “support to continue our 100 years tradition.”

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