Online Sanriku Fisheries Innovation Summit spotlights local marine products industry

Published on
November 20, 2020

Fisherman Japan Marketing Co., Ltd. and the Tohoku Bureau of Economy, Trade, and Industry hosted the four-day Sanriku Fisheries Innovation Summit, an online event that brought together fishing industry stakeholders, tech-forward companies, and investors.  

The goal of the event, which featured a series of online seminars held on 22 to 23 October and 29 to 30 October on Youtube Live, was to boost the fishing industry in Japan’s Sanriku region, located in northeast Honshu Island. The region had been hit hard by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and its resulting tsunami, and has recently been struggling with soft restaurant demand for seafood due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 650 people registered for the even in advance, with a cumulative total of 1,000 attendees tuning into the online event over the course of its four days, International Business Division Head for Fisherman Japan Kazuki Doai said. The turnout was encouraging, and Doai hopes to continue the event annually.

“The original plan was [to hold the seminar] in person before COVID-19, but after holding the event we found many merits of [an] online one. We would continue as an online event,” he said. “This time we made a decision not to make video available for the public in order to get speakers feel comfortable to talk freely.”

Case studies of renovating fisheries through the use of innovative methods, such as scallop farming methods in Iwate Prefecture and seaweed farming in Miyagi Prefecture, were discussed during the event. Seminars also focused on technology, including the use of artificial intelligence and the “Internet of things (IoT),” as well as leveraging the digital transformation of the fishing industry to find business opportunities in the coronavirus era.

Distribution strategies factored large for speakers like Haneda Ichiba Co. Ltd Chief Executive Officer Ryohei Nomoto, who detailed his Tokyo-based company’s super-fast system. The company established its processing area on the grounds of Tokyo’s closest international airport in 2015. Seafood products are brought directly from fishery cooperatives in Japan via air transport, processed at the center, and shipped out on the same day, Nomoto said. The sales area has been expanding from Tokyo to all of Japan, and now to North America and Southeast Asia as well.

Tohoku Food Culture Export Promotion Cooperative Association President Shinji Takada, meanwhile, talked about the concept of many regional companies exporting as a team. The association is a regional export promotion business selling food products from the Tohoku region of Japan. It goes beyond promotions and marketing to arranging mixed containers of various regional products for export, making it easier for importers to obtain a large variety of items in one shipment.

A discussion of the advanced fish handling methods at the Sanriku Toretate Market Co. Ltd. was also detailed during the online event. Fish are landed live and allowed to become calm before they are dispatched using the Japanese ikijeme method of removing the spinal nerve to preserve quality and quickly frozen using the Cells Alive System (CAS). CAS is a line of commercial freezers manufactured by ABI Corporation, Ltd. of Chiba, Japan. The company claims it preserves food with greater freshness than ordinary freezing by using electromagnetic fields and mechanical vibrations to limit ice crystal formation that destroys food texture. The market ships the frozen fish directly from the port to customers by parcel service.

Seafood Legacy Founder and CEO Wakao Hanaoka spoke on the event’s last day about the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and sustainable seafood.

Fisherman Japan Marketing Co. is affiliated with local seafood wholesalers and fishermen and with Yahoo Japan Corporation. It promotes and sells Miyagi Prefecture marine products including through online sales and promotion to Tokyo area restaurants.

Photo courtesy of Fisherman Japan Marketing Co.

Contributing Editor reporting from Osaka, Japan

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