Despite a long history and great popularity, marine recreational fishing in Japan is unmanaged above the local level. Although basic rules govern usage, there is neither exclusive authority nor a recreational fishing right, little monitoring, and weak sanctions. The institutional structure of recreational fishing management and its legal framework are examined, and the current status of management analyzed in terms of authority, rights, rules, monitoring, and sanctions. The main problems are pinpointed and their solutions described. A national management system for marine recreational fishing licenses is proposed that would integrate marine recreational fishing within the existing Fisheries Cooperatives.