|Chinese boats near the Ogasawara Islands|
The Fisheries Agency has recently indicated that China and Japan have reached an agreement to increase measurements to prevent Chinese fishing vessels from illegally poaching coral in Japan's waters. The representatives of the two governments met in the city of Dalian in northeast China and agreed to implement a tougher crackdown and enforce harsher penalties on the culprits. The deal came when several ships assumed to be from China had been discovered poaching red coral in the waters around Ogasawara and Izu Islands south of Tokyo, prompting demands for stricter punishing measurements. The two countries also agreed to establish a hotline to improvise contact between appropriate authorities in deterring poachers, while extending cooperation to see how poached coral is sold. As part of the agreement, the number of Chinese vessels functioning in Japan's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and Japanese vessels in China's EEZ for the 2014 fishing season will amount to 303. The catch allotment for each country's boat will be decreased by 373 tons to 9,441 tons. In addition, the countries agreed to reduce the number of Chinese vessels by 100 to 17,989 in waters that have not been marked off in the East China Sea. Japanese vessels, on the other hand, would stay unchanged at approximately 800. Furthermore, Japan has increased fines for poaching in addition to illegal fishing within its waters amidst the recent rise in Chinese coral poachers in the Pacific Ocean. The events of poaching have also resulted in arrests of Chinese boat captains.
It is wonderful to see that China and Japan have reached a deal in tackling the threat of coral poaching. But it is especially important that both the countries should strictly stick to the components of the agreement and refrain from any loopholes that would promise poachers freedom to continue their illicit business of destroying coral. Red coral is highly valued in China for jewelry and continues to be exploited as a result of ongoing demand. In order to further prevent any red coral from being sold, China should administer crackdowns on jewelry stores suspected of selling ornaments made from red coral and factories suspected of manufacturing products from red coral. Furthermore, public awareness and education programs should be imposed to encourage regular people from purchasing jewelry made from red coral. This would provide red coral with further protection and hopefully a chance to survive for a long period of time. A similar procedure should be established regarding the battle against the illegal ivory trade, especially in China where the demand for ivory remains high and results in countless numbers of elephants being ruthlessly slaughtered for their tusks.
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