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Japan fears tuna shortage -

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TONY EASTLEY: The consumption of whale meat is miniscule in Japan compared to how much tuna the
Japanese go through.

The country that's the home of sushi and sashimi is considering drastic controls on the catching of
tuna in its own waters because of alarming news about fish stocks.

Estimates put annual Japanese consumption of tuna at between 400 and 500,000 tonnes.

North Asia Correspondent Shane McLeod reports.

(Sounds of bells ringing)

SHANE MCLEOD: The ritual starts long before dawn breaks over Tokyo.

(Sounds of auctioneers calling out)

The fresh and frozen tuna market at Tsukiji, on the banks of the Sumida River in central Tokyo, is
the largest in the world.

Roughly one in 10 of the world's fish ends up here in Japan. But there are alarming signs for the
future of Japan's favourite dish.

Around Tsukiji, Tsunenori Iida is known as 'the boss'. He's worked here for nearly 50 years.

(Sounds of Tsunenori Iida speaking)

"It's a limited resource," he says. "And I think we need to cherish it. Japan is aging and having
fewer children so our demand will not rise from now on. What we need to worry about the most is
China. How much fish will they will eat? That's my biggest concern. We really need to value the
resources."

Japan's been in the firing line over its love of tuna. Last year Australia uncovered a massive over
catch of the much-prized Southern Bluefin tuna, estimated to be worth as much as $8 billion.

Yuichiro Harada heads the Organisation for the Promotion of Responsible Tuna fishing, representing
Japan's long line fishermen.

YUICHIRO HARADA: It's a matter of principle. Japan, you know, declared to be a responsible fishing
nation, and in order to maintain such position once Japan admitted failure to comply with the
quota, then it's inevitable to accept reduction of quota.

SHANE MCLEOD: Yet, Japan's fishermen are responsible for only a fraction of the 10 per cent of the
global fish catch that Japan eats.

There's big business in supplying the rest of that appetite and the opportunity for crime is not
far away.

Masanori Miyahara from Japan's Fisheries Agency.

MASANORI MIYAHARA: Sometimes they use processing facilities in China and they just mix up illegal
product with legal products and we cannot identify.

SHANE MCLEOD: Japan says it can't crack down on the multinational illegal trade in fish alone.

And having been caught out over Southern Bluefin tuna, it wants to take a leading role in managing
the world's fish.

Back at Tsukiji market, Tsunenori Iida believes that it's not only Japan that must act.

(Sounds of Tsunenori Iida speaking)

"I think it's true that things have been in disarray," he says. "But nobody was keeping to the
laws. No country. From now on, it's a limited resource, and we should work with each other, tag the
fish and manage the resources. Then I think things will improve."

Japan knows that it has to lead by example if it's to convince the rest of the world that it's
serious about conservation.

TONY EASTLEY: That report from Shane McLeod in Tokyo, and there'll be more on that story on Foreign
Correspondent, tonight on ABC Television.