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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 May 13 - 19  > Fishermen suffering from economic damage due to coronavirus crisis call for government support
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2020 May 13 - 19 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Fishermen suffering from economic damage due to coronavirus crisis call for government support

May 16, 2020
The coronavirus outbreak has delivered a serious blow to fishermen and fish merchants across the country as seafood exports fell and domestic demand, particularly from restaurants, decreased. People in this industry are calling for an increase in government financial support.

Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Kami Tomoko on May 12 at a House of Councilors Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Committee meeting urged the government to provide more financial support for costs shouldered by fishermen’s organizations to slow a fall in fish prices, such as costs associated with the storing and transporting of marine products. She also demanded that the government subsidize traders in fish markets to help them pay facility rents and other fixed costs.

In response, Fisheries Minister Eto Taku said that the ministry will consider Kami’s demands when making requests for a second supplementary budget for 2020.

A recent survey by the national union of coastal fishermen's organizations (JCFU) has found that fresh fish prices tumbled by 50-70% in Japan. Fishermen are being forced to stop their operations because they cannot even cover the fuel costs with the current price levels. Fish farmers are also adversely affected by the ongoing crisis and in some districts in this industry, shipments decreased as much as 30%.

Government statistics have indicated that Japan’s marine product exports in March decreased by 21.9% on a year-on-year basis. Many see the coronavirus outbreak as a major factor precipitating the decline in export demand.

Fish traders are also struggling amid the coronavirus crisis. The April 23 issue of the Suisan-Keizai Daily News reported that among the fish brokers at the Osaka municipal wholesale market, the major food market in western Japan, more than half said that their trade volume shrunk by 50% or more. This report was based on a survey conducted by a cooperative of fish brokers at the market.

JCFU Secretary General Nihira Akira said, “There are many fishermen who have no income at present. We demand that the government provide direct support to coastal fishermen in order to protect their businesses and livelihoods.”

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