Monday, October 16, 2006

The Ministry of Resource Abuse raises its hands

When the Australian fisheries authorities presented their findings on overfishing of South Pacific bluefin tuna to the Japanese government last month, I thought there was no way the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries would even give them the time of day. I was sure their reply to the Australian analysis was going to be something on the order of:

"Statistical evidence? We don't accept no stinkin' statistical evidence."

Hence my astonishment at the reports in this morning's Australian papers:

Japan forced to halve bluefin catch
The Age

Andrew Darby- October 16, 2006- JAPAN has buckled under Australian pressure, accepting a severe cut in its southern bluefin tuna catch after officials accused it of illegally taking fish worth up to $8 billion over the past 20 years.

The reduction came in international talks where the Australian Government attacked Japanese fishers for their deceit, describing the bluefin scandal as among the world's worst cases of overfishing.

Australian officials refused Japanese demands to tone down their language, as they used the case to demand changes to the way the fishery was regulated.

"No, it can't be," I thought to myself. "The MAFF bureaucrats never say sorry. There has to be a catch. They must have snookered the Australians into thinking they have conceded when in truth they have no intention of following through on the deal."

But tonight, the evening papers have the story on the front page. For the Yomiuri, it is the lead story:






What, no simpering? No wailing about prejudice? What about "the cockroaches of the sea" and other colorful turns of phrase? A complete acceptance of the circumstantial evidence of wrongdoing and an acceptance of punishment? What?

"Damn," thought I, "What strange world is this where the MAFF just coughs it up as if it were ejecting a toothfish vertebra from out of its gorge?"

Is this not the same ministry that this past winter approved the hunting of humpback whales--an endangered species--in waters off Australia, nearly driving bilateral relations off a cliff?

What the heck is going on? This sudden surrender cannot be laid at Kim Jong-il's door, can it?

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