Japan reveals plan for rebuilding its fisheries

Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has submitted its annual White Paper on Fisheries to the legislature for approval. The English version has yet to be released, but SeafoodSource contributing editor Chris Loew has obtained a copy and summarized the policy goals outlined by the ministry for fiscal year 2016.

Earthquake reconstruction remains a priority. Measures to be implemented are as follows:

  • Recovery of the functionality of fishing ports. This does not mean complete rebuilding, but rather means the basic ability to dock, load and offload. Private warehouses, cold storages, and processing facilities are not included here. The government is well along in this goal, as a Fisheries Agency recovery report shows that as of February 2015, out of 319 damaged ports in the three prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, loading and unloading functions were completely recovered at 213 (67 percent) and partially recovered at a further 94 ports (29 percent) by the end of June 2015.
  • Strengthening of distribution and disaster prevention functions, which could include constructing secondary inland access routes and seawalls; and promoting measures against land subsidence, such as by raising the land.
  • Recovery of fishing grounds by removing and disposing of rubble recovered from the seafloor. Most of the rubble that would interfere with drag nets has already been brought up, but much remains in mounds around the port areas. In addition, restoration of reefs and sea grass beds is planned.
  • Secure profitability better than before the earthquake through energy-saving measures and lower operating costs. Some examples are LED squid-jigging lights and electric motorboats for the near-shore fishery.

For aquaculture, fish species diversification, the Fisheries Agency will promote joint ventures between private businesses and local fishing cooperatives, to provide capital for increased mechanization and better, more profit-oriented management.

Regarding the Tokyo Electric Power Company Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, the government will continue testing for radioactivity and publishing the results, as well as limiting production or distribution as necessary. It will promote domestic consumption of foods from the region through “Cheer Fair” activities. It will also push for removal of import bans on some Japanese seafood products by other countries.

To promote better resource management, Japan hopes to strengthen cooperation with neighboring countries. In particular, Japan wishes to control the activities of fishing boats from South Korea, China and Taiwan in waters around Japan through agreements for an authorized number of vessels.

  • Bonito tuna is to be managed through international agreements, and Japan will focus on obtaining better stock assessments. In order to achieve compliance, it will dispatch fisheries patrol vessels.
  • For Pacific bluefin tuna, as agreed in the 2014 meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean Tuna Commission (WCPFC), Japan will reduce the catch of fish weighing less than 30 kilograms.
  • For Japanese eel, Japan is working with China, South Korea and Taiwan to limit the stocking of juveniles to ponds. Though voluntary agreements are in place, Japan hopes to create agreements that are legally binding. China has so far refused this agreement.
  • Regarding salmon and trout, from 1 January, 2016, the Russian Federation has banned driftnet fishing in its waters. Such fishing was mainly done by Japanese vessels. The Fisheries Agency will investigate alternative fishing methods.

Other issues in the reports are efforts to maintain biodiversity, developing human resources (especially women) in fisheries, improvements in ship safety (through a ship-collision-avoidance system), and promotion of HACCP food safety approvals for exporters.


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