Japan addresses waning seafood consumption

Published on
May 22, 2009

Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has submitted its annual White Paper on Fisheries to the legislature for approval.

The report’s topics include bolstering consumer confidence in seafood, harvesting tuna and whales sustainably, advancing research in eel cultivation technology, and managing fluctuating fuel prices.

But perhaps the most pressing topic included in the White Paper on Fisheries is Japan’s declining per-capita seafood consumption. The report notes that meat consumption now surpasses that of fish, as young people especially prefer beef and poultry.

Per-capita seafood consumption is now 20 percent lower than its peak in 1997. Many Japanese children surveyed dislike fish because it’s difficult to pick the meat from the bones. In Japan, fish are often grilled whole. 

What’s more, some youngsters think fish smells bad, but sushi remains popular. Today’s young women often do not know how to prepare fish or do not like to bother with cleaning fish.

The report supports promoting seafood consumption through school lunch programs, which are seen as a way of shaping national dietary habits in favor of traditional and domestically produced foods. The report also recommends continuing to promote the health benefits of the omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish.

The policies for 2009 are largely based on the 2007 Basic Plan for Fisheries and include promoting management for recovery of marine resources and fishing fleet reduction.

The white paper also suggests assisting the efforts of fisheries cooperatives to market their own products to increase fishermen’s incomes, and to help them introduce labor-saving and energy-efficient equipment. Japanese fisheries Japan are managed by local fishery cooperatives. Aquaculture will continue to be promoted, too.

Besides managing its own exclusive economic zone, the report recommends that Japan increase its involvement in international fisheries management organizations.

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Contributing Editor reporting from Osaka, Japan

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