Japan attempting to play catch-up with China on aquaculture-related patents

A Nippon Steel Corporation offshore aquaculture platform
A Nippon Steel Corporation offshore aquaculture platform | Photo courtesy of Nippon Steel Corporation
2 Min

Japanese companies are increasingly applying for aquaculture patents for a range of applications, getting in on an investment trend that neighboring China has been heavily involved in for over a decade.

Japanese marine products company Nissui is one of many companies that have applied for multiple aquaculture-related patents, many of which relate to future application in chemical, pharmaceutical, or supplement businesses taking advantage of seafood processing byproducts.

This trend is also being pushed by the Japanese government, which sees technologies connected with fishing, aquaculture, and seafood as a potential growth area for the Japanese economy.

In its “Comprehensive Strategy for Transforming Aquaculture into a Growth Industry,” Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries explored trends in technology development related to aquaculture, listing projects underway using government grants to address technical needs – such as blue carbon assessment methods, efficient seaweed bed formation, and more.

Though these innovations align with the government’s plans, the Japan Patent Office found that Japan’s competitive position in global aquaculture research and projects has room to improve.

It searched patents using seafood-related keywords and evaluated the number granted to applicants from various nations – Japan, the U.S., the E.U., China, South Korea, and Norway – from 2012 to 2018. The research found that the rapidly rising total number of patent applications for aquaculture-related technologies – from 1,575 in the year 2012 to 4,487 in the year 2018 – was almost entirely due to a sharp increase in applications from China.

While the Japanese government and industry are promoting the shift to “smart fisheries” that use patents to trademark innovative technology, the country has acknowledged it will be difficult to fully compete with the sheer volume of patent applications from China. Yet many of the Chinese patents are likely a result of subsidies rather than market-driven innovation.

In response, Japan’s government and industry plan to continue innovating in the space, with specific companies participating including the Nippon Steel Corporation, which developed submersible offshore aquaculture cages with an underwater piping system, Mutsu Home Appliance Special Machinery Co., which developed offshore cleaners and other equipment for ear-hanging scallops, and Okabe Co., which made artificial reefs that serve as nurseries for the fish it farms.

SeafoodSource Premium

Become a Premium member to unlock the rest of this article.

Continue reading ›

Already a member? Log in ›


Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500