Japan’s first ASC-certified coho salmon available through retail and e-commerce

Marukin Co., Ltd., based in Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, has become the first coho salmon farmer in Japan to acquire Aquaculture Stewardship Council certification. The status is valid from 5 June, 2020 to 4 June, 2023.

Marukin was the first company to successfully commercialize coho salmon aquaculture in Japan, in 1977. It sells its salmon under the “Gin-ou (Silver King)” brand. It also raises oysters and scallops.

The certification is the culmination of the Miyagi Onagawa Coho Salmon Aquaculture Improvement Project (AIP). AIPs are collaborative efforts between multiple stakeholders including producers, distributors, and NGOs, with the purpose of improving the responsibility of aquaculture operations. This AIP – the first for Japan – was launched in the fall of 2017 in partnership with Ocean Outcomes (O2), Fisherman Japan, Seafood Legacy, and retailer Seiyu GK. O2 in Japan has since merged with Tokyo-based consultancy Seafood Legacy, which forms links between businesses and sustainability NGOs.

In order to obtain ASC certification, Marukin made various improvements to meet the ASC salmon standard, which covers environmental impacts to surrounding ecosystems and habitats, sustainability of salmon feed and smolt, management of diseases and parasites and corporate social responsibility.

While the product of the initial AIP was retailed by Seiyu, the ASC-certified product will be available at approximately 90 Aeon supermarkets in the Kanto and Tohoku regions starting 26 June, 2020. Aeon supermarkets sell the most ASC products (and Marine Stewardship Council products) of any Japanese chain and can process it in-house, as it has chain-of-custody certification. Fisherman Japan, based in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, will sell the product through e-commerce and promote it at its Tokyo restaurant called Uotaniya.

Seafood Legacy Vice President Shunji Murakami, who was director of the Ocean Outcomes Japan Program before the merger, said, the announcement marks a milestone for the seafood sustainability movement in Japan.

“Achieving ASC certification and further contributing to SDG goals after three years of AIP is a proud moment for Marukin, especially as demand for domestically sourced seafood has increased recently due to the effects of COVID-19 on global seafood trade,” Murakami said. “I hope this wonderful news will help foster a society in which sourcing of ASC-certified and AIP-sourced products as well as companies that work hand-in-hand with producers to improve sustainability of seafood production continue to increase.”

ASC Japan General Manager Koji Yamamoto said that more than 40 percent of global farmed salmon by volume was already ASC-certified, but that certified volume originating from Japan was limited.

Japan Salmon Farm Inc. and FRD Japan are ASC certified farms already raising rainbow trout, and Maruha Nichiro Corp. is certified for masu salmon (Oncorhynchus masou). In Japan, ocean raised trout is usually termed “salmon-trout” and is used somewhat interchangeably with salmon. But Marukin is the first to be certified for coho salmon.

Photo courtesy of Ocean Outcomes


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