TOKYO (AFP) — Japanese squid fishermen went on a two-day strike on Wednesday to urge the government to take action to ease the impact of rising fuel costs, their union said.
Other Japanese fishermen are also considering a wide-ranging suspension of operations this summer as a protest, part of the worldwide backlash against surging oil prices.
More than 3,000 of the about 4,500 squid fishing boats in Japan were being kept idle at port, the national federation of fisheries cooperatives said.
"We are facing such risks," Hiroyuki Noto, deputy chairman of the national association grouping squid fishermen, told a rally in Tokyo.
"We definitely need comprehensive measures from the government," he said as dozens of fishermen wearing blue headbands raised fists and yelled in unity.
Japan has one of the world's largest fishing industries but virtually no natural energy resources.
Squid fishing boats are especially vulnerable to the higher fuel cost because they use a large number of electric lights to lure squids at night.
Top government spokesman Nobutaka Machimura showed sympathy for the fishermen, telling a press conference: "I understand they are struggling a great deal. The government will study what can be done."
Twelve fishing industry groups in Japan, which together provide more than half of the nation's unprocessed natural fish, agreed earlier this month to consider an across-the-fleet suspension.
The tuna industry has also said it was considering halting a third of ocean-going long-line fishing boats in the world.
Parts of Asia including India and Indonesia have seen large street protests against hikes in fuel prices.
Crude oil prices have soared to almost 140 dollars a barrel this month before dropping back slightly amid concerns about supply in the Middle East and rising demand in emerging economies.
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