Asia's seafood addiction is depleting the oceans and stirring diplomatic tensions. The region consumes 70% of the world's fish, a share poised to rise as the middle class expands. Fishing operators are searching for bigger hauls, while governments are increasingly protective of marine resources. The seas are churning with competition and disputes.
TOKYO At 3 a.m. one October night, in a dark and smelly Nagasaki port in western Japan, a 300-ton steel fishing boat from the East China Sea was unloading its catch. Not a man among the tired crew was smiling. One fisherman sighed. "The haul is so tiny," he lamented. The boat contained eight massive tanks but six were empty. And most of the fish in the hold were not mackerel, the hoped-for prize. Instead, the fishermen were unloading smaller and less-pricey fish to market.