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Asia Minute: Managing North Pacific Ocean Fish

Pacific Saury or Sanma

One concern that Hawaii shares with other island nations is the sustainability of ocean fish. Overfishing is a concern in many areas of the Pacific, but last week eight economies agreed to set limits for one kind of fish.

The Pacific saury may not top your list of favorite fish. You might not even be familiar with it.

Or maybe you know it as the mackerel pike — or by its Japanese name “sanma.” It’s a long silvery fish, pretty oily, that’s very popular in Japan – especially in the fall.

And last week in the midst of summer, it helped make a little history.

For the first time ever, eight economies that disagree about a lot of other things agreed to set catch limits on this fish. Canada, China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, the United States and Vanuatu signed on to an annual catch quota.

Those economies together make up the North Pacific Fisheries Commission.

This year, they agreed on an overall limit of more than half a million tons of the fish, but individual quotas will wait until next year.

Japan has been trying to set limits for several years, but China and Taiwan have been reluctant to agree as they both have increased their catches dramatically in recent years.

The Pew Charitable Trust does work in the area of sustainable fisheries, and is urging the North Pacific Fisheries Commission to take further steps to combat illegal fishing and be more transparent about the management practices of its members.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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