Japan’s Fisheries White Paper Reviews 2020, Sets 2021 Policy Priorities
The Japan Fisheries Agency has released its annual Fisheries White Paper explaining trends and reviewing policies for 2020, and setting out new policies for 2021.
The seafood market situation in Japan and abroad was reviewed. Globally, per capita seafood consumption has doubled over the past 50 years, and aquaculture production and seafood trade are increasing, but nationally, seafood consumption continues to grow. downward trend. Per capita seafood consumption in Japan is now lower than in Norway and South Korea, while consumption levels in Indonesia and China are close to those in Japan.
Domestic consumption of seafood was about 7.24 million metric tonnes, with a self-sufficiency rate of 56 percent. Per capita consumption of edible seafood was 23.8 kilograms. The most frequently consumed fresh seafood has shifted from squid and shrimp to salmon, tuna and yellowtail flounder, likely affected by low catches of squid, resulting in high prices. Due to the spread of COVID-19, spending on dining out has declined and purchases of seafood for home use have increased. The value of marine product exports has also declined significantly due to the pandemic.
In a survey, Japanese consumers who want to increase their consumption cited the health benefits of seafood, while those who intend to eat less cited the high prices and prep work. Regarding the domestic supply, production volumes continue to decline, although the value has increased in recent years.
Consumers are also increasingly aware of food safety and sustainable fisheries and aquaculture. The main eco-labeling programs in Japan come from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), and the national Marine Eco-Label (MEL). Ten fisheries in Japan are MSC certified, with 300 processors and distributors holding chain of custody (CoC) certifications. For ASC, 13 operations at 68 sites are approved and 151 CoCs have been certified under the program. For the MEL, 7 fisheries and 41 aquaculture operations have been certified. In addition to eco-labeling, the government promotes regional branding and HACCP compliance to increase export opportunities.
One of the main topics of international fisheries was the negotiations on the elimination of fisheries subsidies. Japan is worried about the growth of the Chinese fleet, encouraged by the subsidies. The country wants China to stop such subsidies, while arguing that some subsidies offered by Japan should still be allowed, such as helping when fuel prices rise too high and below market funding for fishing cooperatives. .
Last year, an Economic Partnership Agreement with the UK entered into force and Japan signed the RCEP Multilateral Trade Agreement which includes China, ASEAN countries, Australia and New Zealand .
Regarding policies for 2021, such as the “Partial Amendment Act of the Fisheries Act, etc. entry into force in 2020 – which shifts the management of a greater number of species to a total allowable catch (TAC) rather than a total allowable effort (TAE) – more and better stock estimates will be needed. This will be done by expanding the collection of landings information, employing more survey vessels, clarifying the relationship between the marine environment and resource fluctuations, and collecting information on the operational and marine environment. peach. As part of this effort, the Fisheries Agency will establish data policies and standardize data. Currently, while catch data must be reported, the format, especially for electronic submission, is not strictly fixed. The goal is to manage 80 percent of species by TAC and move them to management of an individual quota system by 2023.
Among several measures aimed at monitoring or improving the environment, the Fisheries Agency will support the development of a system of networked automatic observation devices to quickly and accurately report red tides and oxygen-poor waters that cause damage to coastal fishing and aquaculture. This is particularly important for bluefin tuna aquaculture, as tuna is more sensitive to lack of oxygen than some other farmed fish such as amberjack and sea bream. Advance notice of red tides would give farmers enough time to tow the net pens to other areas.
There is a serious shortage of skilled fishworkers and marine engineers, so the agency is stepping up efforts to promote these careers, while allowing maritime qualification exams to be taken orally rather than in writing. In addition, the training of foreign technical trainees will be strengthened and local fishing cooperatives are invited to smoothly integrate qualified foreigners wishing to participate in local fishing.
The government will also encourage greater involvement of women in fishing cooperatives. Currently, there are no women in management positions in local fishing cooperatives, and the government wishes to encourage greater involvement. They are involved in the processing and development of specialty products, and the management of direct sales offices, and the Fisheries Agency will provide additional support to these activities, for example through training.
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