Government to expand restricted area for fishing two kilometers off the coast of Henoko
May 30, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo
The government will expand the restricted area for fishing near the planned relocation site for Futenma Air Base.
The government regulates fishing in the water surrounding the relocation site at Henoko based on the Restriction on Operation of Fishing Vessels Act. Currently, this area is set as Water area 1, where operation of fishing vessels is prohibited at all times up to 50 meters offshore from the coast. The government will expand the restricted area up to about two kilometers from the coast. The government is scheduled to start a drilling survey on the sea floor. Observers of the Henoko-relocation issue speculate that the government is trying to prevent opponents of the relocation plan from accessing the area.
In addition to the expansion of the prohibited area, the government is coordinating with the U.S. side to expand the Camp Schwab water area, based on a “5.15 memorandum” agreement in which Japan and the United State decided the provision and conditions of use of the U.S. military facilities and training areas. Within Water area 1, fishing boats are prohibited access. But, canoes, which were used in protests in the past, are exempt from this regulation. The government is considering making water craft other than fishing vessels subject to this regulation.
The government has designated the areas off the coast of Camp Schwab as water area 1 to 4. Within water area 1, fishing is banned at all times, and within water area 2 net fishing is banned. Within water area 3 or 4 fishing is banned during training and exercise activities. The Ministry of Defense has asked the Okinawa Prefectural Government to provide its opinion through the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The Okinawa Prefectural Government sent letters to the Nago fishery cooperatives and the Nago City Office to request their views on May 27.
By reviewing the restricted area, the government will expand water area 1 into water area 2, where fishing is currently allowed provided it does not interfere with military operations. This will increase the area where fishing is restricted at all times, and dedicate it for exclusive use by U.S. Forces. The revised boundaries are scheduled to be agreed on at the Japan-US Joint Committee in the near future. But government officials would not reveal further details of the consultation .
(English translation by T&CT)
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