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About The Asian reporter. (Portland, Or.) 1991-current | View Entire Issue (Dec. 1, 2014)
ASIA / PACIFIC
Page 4 n THE ASIAN REPORTER
December 1, 2014
Surrogate sushi: Japan
biotech for bluefin tuna
Continued from page 2
FINAL WINNER. Japan’s Tomomi Tanaka crosses the finish line to
win the Yokohama International Women’s Marathon in Yokohama, near
Tokyo. Tanaka pulled ahead of Kenya’s Philes Ongori, background, with
50 meters left to claim victory in the last running of the race. (AP Photo/
Tanaka wins Yokohama
YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) — Tomomi Tanaka of Japan
won the Yokohama International Women’s Marathon in a
time of 2 hours, 26 minutes, and 57 seconds.
Tanaka pulled ahead of Kenya’s Philes Ongori with 50
meters left to claim victory in the last running of the race.
Ongori finished two seconds back.
Japan’s Reia Iwade, appearing in her first marathon at
the age of 19, was third with a time of 2:27:21.
The race, which originally started in Tokyo in 1979 and
was moved to Yokohama in 2009 following the launch of
the mass participation Tokyo Marathon, will be dis-
continued after this year, reportedly for financial reasons.
Putin’s tiger kills 15 goats in China
BEIJING (AP) — A rare Siberian tiger released into the
wild by Russian President Vladimir Putin is keeping
farmers in northeastern China on the edge.
The official Xinhua News Agency said the beast named
Ustin bit and killed at least 15 goats in Heilongjiang
province’s Fuyuan county. Xinhua said the farm owner,
Guo Yulin, was stressed about the tiger.
Ustin is one of three Siberian tigers released by Putin in
a remote part of the Amur region in May. Two of them
have entered China. Fitted with tracking devices, they are
monitored by Chinese wildlife workers.
The other tiger, Kuzya, was believed to have raided a
farm and eaten five chickens in October in another
reproductive stem cells from the discarded guts of tuna
shipped by cold delivery from fish farms and inserting
them into mackerel fry so tiny they are barely visible.
The baby fish are put in an anesthetic solution and then
transferred by dropper onto a slide under the microscope.
Researcher Ryosuke Yazawa deftly inserts a minute glass
needle into one’s body cavity to demonstrate.
Under the right conditions, the tuna stem cells migrate
into the ovaries and testes of the mackerel. The team is
now waiting to see if the mackerel, when mature, will
spawn tuna, and if the tuna will survive. Following that,
they could be released into the sea or farmed.
The research team has already succeeded in using
surrogate technology to produce tiger puffer fish, the
poisonous fugu used in sashimi and hotpot, using smaller
grass puffer fish. It has produced trout spawned by
salmon. Companies that import rare and tropical fish also
are interested in the technology.
The method could help reduce pressure on wild
populations, Yamazaki hopes, and also help ensure the
greater genetic diversity needed to preserve various
Though he started out working in the field of genetic
modification (GM), Yamazaki emphasizes that his
techniques involve only surrogate reproduction, not GM.
The main “tricks,” as he calls them, are using baby fish
as future surrogates, because their immature immune
systems will not reject the tuna cells, and relying on the
natural tendency of the reproductive stem cells to mature
and produce viable offspring. To simplify matters, the lab
is using triploid, or sterile hybrid fish commonly bred at
fish farms, that will not develop eggs or sperm of their own
Yamazaki expects his research to be useful for
commercial purposes. Though researchers elsewhere
have succeeded in breeding tuna in captivity, the process
is costly and survival rates are low. Mackerel, less than a
foot long when caught, are much easier to handle and keep
in land-based tanks than tuna, which can grow to nearly
the size of a small car and require far more food per fish.
The mackerel also mature more quickly and spawn more
frequently, if they are well fed and kept at the right
Not all experts favor such high-tech solutions for the
SMALL FRY. A minute needle is used to insert reproductive cells from
a bluefin tuna into a mackerel fry, under a microscope, that will produce
tuna when it matures. Researcher Goro Yamazaki’s technique involves ex-
tracting reproductive stem cells from the discarded guts of tuna shipped
by cold delivery from fish farms and inserting them into mackerel fry so
tiny they are barely visible. (AP Photo/Tokyo University of Marine Science
and Technology, Goro Yamazaki)
Amanda Nickson, director of global tuna conservation
for The Pew Charitable Trusts, said the partial recovery of
Atlantic bluefin stocks shows that enforcement of catch
limits, backed by threats of trade bans, can work.
Earlier this year, the multi-nation fisheries body that
monitors most of the Pacific Ocean recommended limiting
the catch of juvenile bluefin tuna to half the average level
of 2002-2004. Scientists found that stocks of the species
had dwindled to less than four percent of their original
size. It also found that most fish caught were juveniles less
than three years old, before they reach reproductive
The group set a 10-year target of rebuilding the
population to eight percent of its original size.
“As long as you don’t take too many, those populations
can rebuild and rebuild fairly effectively,” she said.
Perhaps so, said Yamazaki, but over the centuries,
humans have repeatedly over-consumed resources,
sometimes past the point of no return.
“Japanese people eat tuna from all over the world. We
have to do something. That is the motivation for my
research,” said Yamazaki.
Oil plunge is threat and boon to global economies
(AP) A renewed plunge in oil
prices is a worrying sign of weak-
ness in the global economy that
could shake governments depen-
dent on oil revenues. Yet it is also
a bonus for consumers as prices
fall at the pump, giving indivi-
duals more spending money and
lowering costs for many busi-
The latest slide follows OPEC’s
decision to leave its production
target at 30 million barrels a day.
Member nations of the cartel are
worried they’ll lose market share
if they lower production.
Partly because of the shale oil
boom in the U.S., the world is
awash in oil at a time when
demand from major economies is
weak — so prices are falling.
Citibank analysts wrote in a
report last month that global
supplies exceed demand by about
700,000 barrels a day now.
The price of U.S. crude oil
dropped $7.54 per barrel, or 10
percent, to $66.15 on November
28, and is down 38 percent since
hitting $107 in June. Brent
crude, an international bench-
mark, fell three percent to $70.15
Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at
the Oil Price Information Service,
expects the price to fall by
another $5 or $10 per barrel
before stopping. “It’s that kind of
route,” he said.
Overall, the slide is a boon for
regions like Asia, Europe, and
PLUNGING PRICES. A man fills his
car with gas at a filling station in Tokyo.
The sign shows the cost of regular gas as
148 yen, or $1.25, per liter ($4.69 per
gallon). A renewed plunge in oil prices is
a worrying sign of weakness in the global
economy that could shake governments
dependent on oil revenues. Yet it is also a
bonus for consumers as prices fall at the
pump, giving individuals more spending
money. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
North America. But there are
also some possible negatives.
The U.S. economy will receive
an outsized benefit from lower oil
prices because the U.S. is the
world’s largest oil consumer.
U.S. consumers have been
surprised and delighted at the
lowest gasoline prices since 2010.
Drivers in some low-cost states
such as South Carolina, Mis-
souri, Oklahoma, and Texas
could see prices below $2,
according to Kloza.
The U.S. national average on
November 28 was $2.79. Kloza
expects gas to eventually be a full
$1 per gallon below its June peak
of about $3.70 per gallon. That
would save typical households
$60 a month for those that burn
60 gallons of fuel.
“It’s a nice easy, calculation,”
Kloza says. “These are numbers
that we would have regarded
three or four months ago as some-
thing from the lunatic fringe.”
The bottom should come
between $2.50 and $2.70 per
gallon, Kloza says.
Canadian consumers are also
catching a break. In some
regions, such as southern
Ontario, gasoline could fall below
the important psychological
barrier of $1 per liter.
The oil companies propelling a
production boom in Canada and
the U.S. won’t be so happy. Crude
produced in Canadian oil sands,
deep offshore in the Gulf of
Mexico, and in some U.S. onshore
shale formations is some of the
most expensive oil to produce in
Drillers will have to cut back at
least some activity. Forcing this
kind of slowdown may have been
part of OPEC’s motivation for
declining to cut its own produc-
Many of Europe’s economies
are net importers of oil, so lower
prices are likely to give a
welcome, if small, boost to
growth. Cheaper energy reduces
costs for industry and puts more
money in consumers’ pockets.
That will be particularly useful in
the 18-nation eurozone, where
unemployment is high.
In Germany, the price of Super
E10 fuel has fallen from 1.53
euros per liter ($7.16 per gallon)
at the start of September to 1.42
euros per liter ($6.69 per gallon)
in late November, according to
the ADAC motoring association.
Declining fuel prices also, how-
ever, add to one of the eurozone’s
biggest headaches: low inflation.
Weak inflation makes it harder
for troubled economies such as
Greece to reduce debt. It is also a
problem for the European Cen-
tral Bank, which wants to boost
inflation from just 0.3 percent
currently to around two percent.
The few European producing
countries — mainly Britain and
Norway in the North Sea — face a
drop in revenues that could
balance out the positives of
Russia gets about 50 percent of
its state revenue from oil exports,
so the government’s concerns are
clear. The national economy is
already sliding into recession
under the impact of western
sanctions and investors are
pulling money out.
For Russian consumers, the
outlook is mixed. Prices at the
pump have actually gone up be-
cause a drop in the national cur-
rency, the ruble, has increased
inflation. In local money,
95-octane gasoline costs 35.99
rubles per liter ($2.80 per gallon)
in Moscow, up from 35.53 per
liter two months ago.
Venezuela pushed for an OPEC
cut because it badly needs high
oil prices to fund its government.
The country’s oil production has
been steadily declining for years
so the combination of lower out-
put and lower prices is already
squeezing the nation’s finances.
Venezuelan drivers won’t see a
difference in price soon, though,
because gasoline is heavily subsi-
dized. Drivers pay the equivalent
of five cents per gallon.
In Japan, which is a net
importer of oil, cheaper crude
Continued on page 7