Anti IUU Forum Japan requests more seafood-import controls

Published on
June 1, 2022
The logos of the various organizations belonging to Anti IUU Forum Japan

Members of Anti IUU Forum Japan have issued a joint statement to Japanese government officials recommending steps that should be taken to fight illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

The Anti IUU Forum Japan is a group of organizations promoting sustainable fisheries that includes WWF Japan, Seafood Legacy Co., The Nature Conservancy, Sailors for the Sea Japan. 

Their "Joint Statement on Domestic Trade of Specific Marine Animals and Plants Act in Japan” was sent to Japan Fisheries Agency Director General Takashi Koya and Senior Vice-Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Arata Takebe in May 2022.

It comes in response to the Domestic Trade of Specific Marine Animals and Plants Act, which became law in Japan in December 2020, setting regulations that limit imports of seafood related to IUU. The law requires record-keeping on catches and transfers in order to establish traceability,  and a “certificate of legal catch” for all seafood imports. It is similar to the U.S. Seafood Import Monitoring Program initiated in 2018, and the E.U. IUU Regulation established by the European Union in 2010, though the law in Japan and SIMP in the U.S. focus on selected species, while that of the E.U. covers all species.

Though the Japanese Diet passed the law in 2020, it did not come into effect immediately, as it was converted into formal regulations over the following two years. That work included selecting the species to be covered, reducing the workload of operators, the electronification of data, and collaborating with other countries regarding mutual acceptance of national certifications.

In creating the law, the government received input from the Anti-IUU Forum Japan, giving it continued influence as the government has crafted the specific regulations that will be required under the law. The group’s latest joint statement asks for the following steps to be incorporated into the regulations:

  • The establishment of an electronic catch documentation and reporting system that can be extended in a stepwise fashion to all seafood distributed in Japan.
  • The requirement of greater transparency throughout the entire system via the development of a system of traceability consistent with relevant international standards such as those promulgated by the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability (GDST), including harmonized key data elements (KDEs) with the existing import control schemes of the E.U. and U.S.
  • The requirement of transfer of information to the FAO Global Record of Fishing Vessels, Refrigerated Transport Vessels, and Supply Vessels.
  • Increasing the number of species covered by Japan’s import control scheme to include tuna, eel, and other wild-caught and farmed species that are popular in Japan, and at risk of IUU fishing.
  • The implementation of additional checks on seafood imports to ensure that no human rights abuses have taken place during their production or processing.

“We believe that further cooperation between governments and industries is essential for more-sustainable seafood sourcing and supply practices,” the statement said. “We commend Japan on the introduction of this new ministerial ordinance as a positive first step toward greater transparency and enhanced monitoring, control, and surveillance in the fisheries sector, in line with the outcomes of the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy.”  

Contributing Editor reporting from Osaka, Japan

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